Our second day in Ireland found us waking up in the beautiful Kilronan Castle Hotel. Breakfast was an abundant Irish breakfast buffet - with delicious hot coffee and tea. The service was impeccable!
Our tour director was an unbelievably charming man named Tommy O'Toole - yes, that is is real name. He lives in County Tipperary with his wife and has been a tour director with CIE Tours since the early 1980's.
Tommy has a master's degree in Irish history and was so informative and interesting throughout our drives through this beautiful country that he loves so well.
Now, I have to admit that the main site that we visited on our second day was kind of a wash-out, in two ways. First of all it was raining, and we were taking a ferry boat ride over to St. Patrick's Purgatory in Lough Derg. Pilgrims have been travelling to this sacred site for centuries on spiritual quests or a journeys seeking something deeper; getting closer to their authentic selves, continuing a ritualistic tradition of their ancestors.
While Lough Derg has been renowned as a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years, and is more commonly associated with penance and purgatory, pilgrims are more conscious these days of the spiritual atmosphere of the Island. In today's noisy and hectic world, people appreciate a haven of peace.
This was not something that really interested FHFB or me, but we were willing to remain open to the experience. Spirituality is something that's very personal to me, and although I certainly respect the personal practices of many others, public demonstrations of penance or meditation are just not something I'm interested in or comfortable with.
The tradition of the historical three-day pilgrimage has been preserved but additional services have been offered in recent years. The introduction of these new services - One Day Retreats, Youth Retreats and Special Group Retreats - allow people the opportunity to experience this sacred place when age or disability might otherwise prevent them from participating in the traditional pilgrimage.
We weren't able to go onto the island because there was a pilgrimage in process.
The picture above is one of the very small islands in the lake.
After our tour of the lake and a cup of tea and delicious warm scones at the visitors center with a video that I could have definitely skipped ;) - we were on our way to Donegal Town, where we checked into the Mill Park Hotel for two nights.
More about that in my next post!