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While on residency in the West of Ireland we filmed three of our most important walks and site explorations to Knocknarea, Carrowkeel and Croagh Patrick. You can watch these short films on the link below. Huge thanks to Evan Flynn for filming, editing and directing these films, to Peter Martin for 2nd camera, to Sligo Walks and Failte Ireleand for making the films possible – particularly to John Concannon – and to pilgrims Sean MacErlaine, Linda Buckley and Gyða Valtýsdóttir and pioneer Steve Wickham for giving their musical talent so generously to soundtrack these pieces. Thanks also to our excellent guides, Stefan Bergh (Knocknarea), Martin Byrne (Carrowkeel), Manchán Magan and Richard Scriven (Croagh Patrick).

If you are interested in retracing our steps on these magnificent mountains you can find details of the Sligo trails (for Knocknarea and Carrowkeel) on Sligo Walks and on Croagh Patrick on their excellent visitors site here.

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“The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains” –  John Muir

Early on Sat May 11 2013, our pilgrims gathered quietly in preparation for our final destination – Croagh Patrick. The Reek, as it is colloquially known, overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo and is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption.

CroaghPatrick_creek Manchán Magan wrote this piece for The Guardian in 2009: “ A staggering 20-25,000 pilgrims still climb Croagh Patrick mountain – a soaring cone-shaped 765m (2,500ft) peak that rises above Clew Bay in Co Mayo – each year on the last Sunday in July (the nearest Sunday to the original pagan festival of Lughnasa), often barefoot. This is where the Irish have always come for guidance and reassurance at the beginning of harvest time; later, it became a place for penance for sins committed. We’ve been coming here for more than 3,000 years, since our Neolithic ancestors first chose it as a sacred site. Later, we came to worship the Celtic sun god, Lugh; then, in AD441, the site was cannily co-opted by St Patrick, who fasted here for 40 days and nights before banishing the snakes from Ireland. Ever since, we have been coming in memory of him.” <read the full article>

Our Pilgrimage Project expedition weaved together an eclectic array of artists, musicians, writers and performers from Ireland, Iceland & Greece. This was the final stretch of Pilgrimage Project.We were joined by friends, family and curious strangers who soon became friends. We were also aided and abetted by a motley crew of pioneers including Pat Collins, Ruth Meehan and Manchán Magan who joined our expedition to share their work and experiences with the pilgrims.

Arriving at the summit is a rite of passage and was emotional for some who had soldiered through fire and sword to get there. The instructions for penitential rituals and prayers added a surrealist Catholic touch for our international guests.

CroaghPatrick_summit_rules

The view from the top is spectacular – particularly when assisted by homemade sandwiches and flasks of tea. We began our mountain descent like wild goats in the knowledge that some creamy pints of Guinness where calling our thirsty pagan souls.

Croaghpatrick_Pints

Pat Collins’ extraordinary film What We Leave in our Wake was a touch stone for Pilgrimage Project and we hosted a screening of it at The Model, Sligo later that evening when we came down off the mountain. Ruth Meehan hosted a conversation after the film with Pat Collins and with Aoife and myself as the project curators.  It was a beautiful way to unwind and make sense of our collective fieldtrips to ancient burial sites, monastic settlements, graveyards, seaweed baths and well-worn pilgrim paths.

Watch the video below of our closing journey.

 

 

 

This little film was made about The Northern Lights Observatory in Feb 2011. The maiden voyage of the ireland : iceland project.
Some of our pilgrims are here Andri Snær Magnason, Kate Ellis & Noeline Kavanagh and it was shot by Mr. Myles O’Reilly.

Galtarviti LighthouseIceland2

Trace

  • A visible mark, such as a footprint, made or left by the passage of a person, animal, or thing.
  • Evidence or an indication of the former presence or existence of something; a vestige.
  • A path or trail that has been beaten out by the passage of animals or people.
  • The sum of the elements of the principal diagonal of a matrix.

To trace

  • to make an impression or imprinting of (a design, pattern, etc.)
  • to go back in history, ancestry, or origin

My father Cornelius Scott was an avid tracer. He loved to make the perfect connection . For  him it was a rite of passage . I guess I have inherited that trait and am sure I can track it all the way backs through my ancestral lineage – people who weave connections together to make sense of the world. I used to think this was a particular aspect of Irish culture – working out who people were, where they were from and what they were made of.

Tracing can take the form of an Olympic sport in rural Ireland – I was informed once “ I’ll tell you exactly who you are” by a very determined stranger. Della – the inimitable landlady of The Royal Oak in Kilmainham was able to track down my vital statistics with applomb.

The Trace usually starts with a few leading questions and then loops and spirals through timelines throwing up a few ancestral red herrings until it is unanimously agreed that you actually are who you claim to be. It can be very unsettling if you have a few skeletons in the closet and the trace is carried out publically.

We live on a small little island and I guess it’s a way of working out what tribe we belong to – a way to establish connection from one soul to another. It happens in Iceland too.

The thing is I am pretty into the whole tracing business myself – making the connections, introducing people and wildly surfing the various degrees of separation. The Steve Jobs Stanford commencement address from 2005 was an epiphany for me – it revealed an obsessive tracing of patterns and connections that all made sense when placed together. This is what makes me come alive……

Call it obsessive dot joining but it took me to Iceland in 2009 and I haven’t stopped tracing crazy patterns since. Monks, Lighthouses, Geese, Swans, Volcanic Ash, Sagas, Vikings, Musicians, Artists, Economists, Politicians, Fish, Mayors, Spirals, Loops, Knitting, Folklore, National Assembly’s, Booms, Busts and beyond.

This is what the ireland : iceland project is all about – connections, dot joining and tracing. I wish my father was here to be part of it although I am sure he is masterminding the whole operation from the stars.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”  Steve Jobs