Pilgrimage to Derry and Iona, June 2017 – A Provisional Plan
August 15, 2015
Here is a provisional, but very exciting, plan for June 2017, which our chairman, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, has asked me to investigate and map out in more detail.
God willing, FOI hopes to organise a pilgrimage in three stages, following the journey which Saint Columba made in the mid-sixth century, bringing the Christian faith from his native Ireland to the north of Scotland.
In the first stage, one group of pilgrims will gather in the saint’s home city of Derry-Londonderry, which owes its existence to a monastery founded by the saint on an island in the River Foyle. The city is a place of great beauty and historic resonance, and in the vicinity there are many sites associated with the saint, who is often known locally by his Irish name of Columkille.
In the second stage, a group of pilgrims (with priority going to younger people) would make the voyage from the northwest of Ireland to Iona, on a sturdy chartered vessel with an experienced and qualified skipper. The exact timing and duration of this voyage would obviously be subject to weather and sea conditions. Ideally, there would be stops at other places in the Western Isles which are associated with the saint, such as Islay and Colonsay. The whole voyage can be made in about ten hours in good conditions. But there would be no reason to make the trip as hastily as that.
In the third stage, a group of pilgrims would welcome the seafarers as they arrive on Iona. and then spend up to five days exploring the beloved places on and around the island which were sanctified by Columba and his community.
The three groups would be distinct, but perhaps to some extent overlapping. People can apply to join one or other stage of the pilgrimage. People who are accepted for say, the first stage can expect economically priced board and lodging for the duration of their stay in Derry; likewise those who join the final part can expect pre-arranged and affordable accommodation on either Iona or the immediate adjacent part of Mull. People who are accepted as seafarers can expect a couple of nights’ cheap board and lodging at either end. If people are really keen to participate in both the first and the third stage, they are very welcome to do so if they are willing to make one of the legs at their own arrangement and expense.
We hope very much to be able to make a more detailed announcement in early 2016. But people are welcome to register their interest by emailing me at the address below.
Bruce Clark, Secretary FOI bruceclark17 AT hotmail.com