Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Fates of Sacred Landscape in the Reformation

The Guardian has just published Graham Parry's compeling review of Alexandra Walsham’s The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity, and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland. St. Patrick’s Purgatory is treated extensively, along with others sites throughout the British Isles — even such as Stonehenge — that were attacked in an effort to purge the natural world of sacred places that attracted worshippers and pilgrims. As the Reformers set about remaking the “popish” and “pagan” landscapes, they attempted to destroy everything from sacred trees to sacred waters. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reliquaries on View

Two shows currently examine the place of medieval relics in devotion and art. Objects of Devotion and Desire: Medieval Relic to Contemporary Art is at the Hunter Gallery in New York (68th Street and Lexington Avenue) through April 30. Treasures of Heaven is at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore through May 15th. While none of the objects in these two shows relate particularly to the few surviving relics from the Pilgrim’s Way to St. Patrick’s Purgatory — which mostly are found in the National Museum in Dublin — this is nevertheless a good opportunity to see some interesting objects, in interesting contexts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Almost 8,000 Views on the Pilgrim’s Map

Our Map of the Pilgrim’s Way to St. Patrick’s Purgatory went live online in June 2009, just after our first visit to Station Island.

By early this week over 7,800  visitors had viewed this map, which lists the 20 sites to visit along the route from Dublin to Lough Derg.

It includes a description of each site and what is still visible, a history of the site, links to online picture gallerys and online resources, a bibliography on each site, plus information on maps, parking, access and visitor facilities.

It includes sites at Dublin, Swords, Lusk, Drogheda, Mellifont, Slane, Donaghmore, Kells, Cattlekeeran, Kilmore, Drumlane, Aghalurcher, Devenish, Inishmacsaint, White Island, and finally Lough Derg. It also includes travel directions.

The complete guide, The Pilgrim’ Way to St. Patrick’s Purgatory, is available in hardcover and paperback.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hell on the Radio

On Sunday, September 26th, I will be interviewed on Tapestry, Canadian Broadcasting’s weekly show on faith. The show will be devoted to notions of the afterlife, and my segment will be discussing medieval and modern notions of hell. Mary Hynes hosts. 
Like NPR’s Speaking of Faith, this weekly program is an “engaging, provocative and unexpected hour of radio: an hour in which rabbis and poets get equal time on the topic of faith, science-fiction writers and physicist-priests ponder the great creation myths, athletes explore the hero's journey as a spiritual metaphor, and architects examine the idea of space for the soul.”
Tapestry airs on CBC Radio One on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 Atlantic, Eastern and Central; 3:00 Pacific; and 4:00 Mountain. It is rebroadcast on Thursday at 3:00. After the first airing on September 26th, you can listen to the show or download a podcast at .
In addition to The Pilgrim’s Way to St. Patrick’s Purgatory, I am the author of several books on Hell, including Visions of Heaven and Hell Before Dante, and am the curator of the website “Hell-on-Line.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

History Channel, Again!

Over 2 million viewers watched the premier of the History Channel's two-hour documentary, “Gates of Hell” on Tuesday, August 17. It is now scheduled to air again this Saturday, August 28th at 5 pm. If you missed the first showing, please be sure to catch the repeat!

The show has been called lurid, scary and repetitious. Sounds like Hell to me.

The part on St. Patrick’s Purgatory is toward the end and is well done and thoughtful, despite some of the dramatic, cinematic effects.

Please tune in!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

St. Patrick’s Purgatory on the History Channel

The site of the original cave
known as St. Patrick's Purgatory,
long believed to be an
entrance to the otherworld.

Watch for the History Channel's two-hour documentary, “Gates of Hell.” It premiers Tuesday, August 17, at 8:00 PM. It includes interviews of me discussing St. Patrick’s Purgatory on Lough Derg, Ireland while on a visit to the site in June. My related book, The Pilgrim’s Way to St. Patrick’s Purgatory, has just been published by Italica Press.
“Gates of Hell” explores six places across the globe believed to be actual entrances into Hell. They include a volcano in Iceland, a cave in the jungles of Central America, a lake of fire in Africa, Lago Averno outside Naples, a pagan sacred site in Greece, and St. Patrick’s Purgatory in Ireland. According to ancient myth and legend, each is a passage to the infernal otherworld. Even today, some believe they are still portals. They share striking similarities. The History Channel visits these locations, and along the way, reveals how the St. Patrick’s Purgatory is related to these other sites and how the concept of Hell emerged in history and why it still evokes such fascination today.

Please tune in!

Here's an over-the-top promo from the History Channel.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Historical Photos from the Pilgrim’s Way

The National Library of Ireland has just made available a collection of 34,000 historic photographs from 1860–1954. It includes a rich collection for the Pilgrim’s Way to St. Patrick’s Purgatory with photos of monuments at Dublin, Swords, Drogheda, Mellifont, Slane, Donaghmore, Kells, Castelkeeran [search “St. Kiernan’s Well”], Kilmore and Devenish. 

Most exciting are the photos from Lough Derg [use advanced search, exact phrase and search “Lough Derg” and “Station Island”]. The search for “Lough Derg” results in many good views of the island and pictures of the 1913 visit of Cardinal Logue.  The search for “Station Island” results in thirty-eight pictures, with pilgrims doing their rounds of prayer and many more good views of the island, including some interior shots.

Within the photos for Lough Derg (112), there are approximately eighteen photos that are actually Lough Derg in the River Shannon and not Donegal, but for most most part those are easy to identify, since they are also labeled “Holy Island.” (I've put an alert in to the NLI and expect that these will be fixed.)