Having some weeks back found the Rock of Cashel wanting in the welcome department, now it’s the turn of Clonmacnoise. A pile of rubble in a field—is it more than this? Apparently so, for huge coaches clog up narrow local roads, bringing hordes of pilgrims to tread in the footsteps of Ciaran and JPII. Even on a day blighted by low skies, soft rain and a general air of gloom, the car park was full. Last time we were there, about 20 years ago, entry was free and views unimpeded. Today we found that not only did entry come at a price, but also any possibility of using the loo—at the same price. It seemed that trees had been planted deliberately to obscure any chance of a view without paying. Rampant commercialism meant that even a cup of tea was not to be had without paying the entrance fee. Maybe this is what happens after JPII has visited a place.
Rampant commercialism reminds me that last week we called in at Knock on the way back from Donegal. The shop merchandise was all in the best possible taste. She who must be obeyed said that the loos there were ‘appalling’. She is not alone: so say several online reviews. The weather was awful too, but I don’t suppose we can do much about that. A few years ago we visited the Holy Land. We saw lots of piles of rubble in fields near Jerusalem that possibly may possibly have possibly been associated with Jesus and the disciples. Galilee is beautiful and very moving. It feels real. And the Rock of Dunamase still rocks.