Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Seeking out some Spiritual Trails
St. Patrick is probably one of the best known saints in the world. We here in Ireland rejoice in our ownership of this iconic saint who is feted every year on our national holiday – the 17th March. He was certainly a man on the move when it comes to the number of places which claim to have been visited by the great man himself. The truth is that myth and legend has merged with reality over the hundreds of intervening years; folklore often being acknowledged as fact. We do know for a fact that he was at the Hill of Tara in Co. Meath and also that he was at Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo.
If you are interested in following one of his lesser known paths in Ireland a good suggestion would be to think about visiting the Spiritual Trails of Connemara along the western seaboard of Ireland. This marine highway abounds with ecclesiastical themed stories. Many saints visited Ireland’s western seaboard. Some saints associated with pockets of Connemara include St. Roc associated with Killary; St. Colmán with Inishboffin, St. Ceannanach with Cleggan and St. Féichín in Omey and High Island. St. Colm Cille is the best known saint associated with this region and is regarded as the great protector of Connemara. However, St. Patrick also made it to Connemara briefly so he too can be added to the list of saints.
One of the places that St. Patrick is known to have journeyed to is Maam Eán (Recess) around 441 AD. Here you will find an ancient holy well called Tobar Phádraic and old stone pilgrim stations or ‘beds’; one of which is a shelf cut into the rock and called after St. Patrick. There is a small oratory with a sculpture of St. Patrick outside which is fitting tribute to our national Saint. Several mythological stories are fascinating, including one about a pagan God called Crom Dubh (black and crooked) who turned himself into a bull and fought with St. Patrick. Maam Eán (Recess) is well worth a visit for those who wish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a more spiritual way. Its location is off the beaten track but locals will always give you the heads up with directions.
Cashel House Hotel is an olde worlde classic hotel where guests are cosseted. It is located in the heart of Connemara not too far from Roundstone, making it a central point for visiting several spiritual trails in the region. It is also quite close to Maam Eán (Recess). You will certainly enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Cashel House as your base; particularly this year as it falls on a weekend so more time to enjoy the gardens of Cashel House, which are ever so special. The owner of Cashel House also has a little ritual on St. Patrick’s Day when the first potatoes are planted. Guests really enjoy participating in this annual ceremony and it will give you the opportunity of being close to the earth and lifting your spirits for the oncoming Spring season.