Exhibition: Journeys of Belief and Belonging: Modern Irish Pilgrimage
I have an exhibition in the UCC Library running from early April until late June. It explores the pilgrimage tradition and how it is manifest in contemporary Ireland. Using images and text, it illustrates how pilgrimage, an activity usually associated with the past, is a vibrant cultural phenomenon that inspires millions of people annually to leave home, go on a journey, and try to connect with the more meaningful aspects of life.
The exhibition uses images taken during my fieldwork at some of Ireland’s main pilgrimage sites, Lough Derg, Co Dongeal; Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo; Knock, Co. Mayo; and, a holy wells in Munster. These photographs of pilgrims and rituals offer a window into this living and evolving tradition. Quotations from people interviewed during the research add personal stories revealing how pilgrimage is a rich spiritual and emotional journey for many.
The aim of the exhibition is to highlight the significant role pilgrimage still plays in the emotional and spiritual lives of thousands of individuals and in the social life of communities. As a piece of geographical research, it focuses on the relationships between people and place. It considers how through performing pilgrimage, people are ‘making’ holy places and how the locations are, simultaneously, defining people as pilgrims.
An interview I did with Shush! – a UCC Radio station about the events and news from the library - explores the themes involved in the exhibition. You can listen to the interview here:
The exhibition is funded by the Irish Research Council and UCC Library.