Roscrea's seventh annual pilgrim friendship walk in honour of St. Cronan was held on Sunday 24th April last, the Sunday before St. Cronan’s feast day on the 28th April.
St. Cronan is the founder and patron of Roscrea in the 7th Century.
He is renowned in history for his spirituality and hospitality, and a man who founded a Celtic monastery which earned for Roscrea the Golden Age title of “celebrated city”. The walk reflected on aspects of his legacy to Roscrea – pilgrimage, community and hospitality and included stops for reflection at various significant points en route.
The theme of the walk this year was ‘Ais Eiri’, meaning Resurrection or Rebirth and we began at the site of Cronan’s first local monastic foundation in Sean Ross Abbey on the site of St. Annes with kind permission.
It was here we acknowledged the centenary of the Easter Rising and prayed that our country may begin to bloom again after hard times like the host of golden daffodils that surrounds the Abbey today.
The commemorative bookmarks were blessed by the clergy who joined us on our walk: Canon Jane Galbraith who joined us on her first pilgrim walk in Roscrea, Fr. Tom Corbett, Fr. Deeley, and Dom Richard Purcell, Fr Malachy, Fr. Laurence of Mount Saint Joseph Abbey. We were also joined on our walk by members of the communities of St. Anne’s and Parkmore Convent.
As we exchanged the sign of peace the walkers split up into two groups: the main route led by Fr. Laurence, a Roscrea native and the road less travelled through the woods by Canon Jane Galbraith who is new to Roscrea.
As the walkers joined together again on the road to Monaincha, we stopped for prayers and reflection on the beauty of God’s creation: green pastures, trees in full leaf, wild flowers in full bloom and the young animals in the fields and then we sang the hymn ‘How great thou art’.
Then we proceeded on our way, retracing the steps of St. Cronan who used Monaincha as a place of retreat and also remembering that in the ‘Middle Ages’ this ‘Island in the bog’ was a renowned international place of pilgrimage.
At the entrance to the Holy Island of Louch Cré we remembered the needs of pilgrims of centuries past, needs no doubt similar to our own: health, peace of mind, hope for our country and our world and for some quiet time spent in prayer and reflection on our faith.
It was here that the annual exchanging of images taken from the Book of Dimma between the four local churches took place.
Then we proceeded to our final stop at Monaincha Abbey, 31st Wonder of the World, the cradle of Christianity in Roscrea.
Mindful of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis this year and the National Centenary weekend of the Easter Rising we reflected on the words of Pope Francis “wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.
This was followed by a Psalm sung by the Monastic Community of Mount St. Joseph which began ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”.
Together as pilgrim friends we prayed together and then enjoyed some light refreshments at Monaincha Abbey, a beautiful haven of tranquillity where time has stood still for thousands of years.
This year’s organising committee of Adrian Hewson, Margaret Ryan Andrew Walsh, Peg Caverley, Doug De Laureal and Joan Murray would like to express our sincere thanks to Mary and Andrew Walsh who provided the bus to bring and return pilgrims from Roscrea Town to the Abbey, Cothal MacNicholas of ‘Roscrea Trail Blaizers, Community at St. Annes, Lesley Draper, Jim and Una Delaney, Eddie Murray, Francis De Lewis, Brendan Keeshan, P.J. Wright and all those who participated and helped in any way to make this seventh pilgrim friendship walk another success.