11 Feb Our Lady’s Island , County Wexford
On your tours of Ireland Ireland, Our Lady’s Island is a must see. The Island is surrounded by a slat water lake and cut off from the sea by a sand bar , has been a place of pilgrimage since pre-Christian times. It was St Ibar who absorbed it into the Christian Church and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. From the 12th Century , Christians have made their way to do penance there , many crawling around its 12 acres on their knees , or walking with one foot in the water.
Today you can see the remains of a 15th century castle , whose one remaining tower leans at an angle. Thousands of worshippers regularly attend a late summer service held on the island each year.
There is ample evidence of pre-Christian settlement around the island. Raths , or ring-forts , are thought to lie beneath clay mounds scattered throughout the locality , and at nearby Ballytrent and Carnsore Point are two important pagan shrines. Historians believe that the area was once quite densely populated and that Our Lady’s Island – whose Irish name means ‘meadow of the women’ – was the home of druid priestesses. The present causeway is thought to have been built by pre-Norman monks.
The area’s mystical past is still venerated at every funeral , when a wooden cross is placed in the hawthorn tree nearest the cemetery , a custom thought to be druid worship.
So why not visit this hidden gem on your Ireland tours?