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.
The drizzle and low cloud does indeed add a certain something to the piles of rubble – the Lord present in the cloud, even if not a pillar. I too like Glendalough. As I keep saying, the Rock of Dunamase is really worth a visit. Not a religious site (primarily) though there is rather a nice church at its foot … And don’t forget the rose-coloured specs!
Seems to me Rev Stanley that you need to go and visit elsewhere!!!! I read about your trip to the Rock of Cashel, didn’t realise that Clonmacnoise was as bad if not worse!! Why did you go to Knock???? That is associated with members of the ‘other’ persuasion, and like everywhere else, it is a money making racket. All these tourist attractions around the country are not geared for tourists, loos for example. I’d stick to going to the Holy Land, stones and all, it may be more expensive, but probably worth the extra for all you’d experience treading and following in the footsteps of our Lord. Hope you are keeping well despite your bad experiences on the tourist trail.
You evidently have a poor opinion of the tourist industry in your native land. I have enjoyed another Marian shrine, Walsingham, even in the drizzle. Curiosity took me to Knock, and has now been satisfied. As you may have gathered, I have no interest in piles of rubble in fields.
Having been to Glendalough, Cashel, Clonmacnois, the Island of Skellig Michael, Armagh and Stanley’s Institution as Rector of Portlaiose all in the space of five days last August, I suppose I could be regarded as having an opinion, although I suspect Stanley probably would regard me as a sad ……. for doing these Christian sites (his own institution excepted). I found something of spiritual value in each of these places and although there is an element of commercialism, it’s Irish commercialism, which doesn’t get in the way of what you might describe on the one hand a pilgrimage element and on the other an insight into Ireland’s spiritual past before those on my side of the Irish Sea came along,ballsing things up and introducing alien religious attitudes, political interference, St William and all Oranges, incessent flag waving and provocative marches.