Pilgrims flock to threatened Lough Patrick

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THERE was a large turnout at the annual pilgrimage to Lough Patrick on St Patrick’s Day.

The beauty spot near Sixtowns, Draperstown, which is threatened by plans for a 180ft wind turbine, has been a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years.

Indeed it could be argued that it was a place set apart for over 1,200 years even before the Vikings came in 854.

Magherafelt District Council is expected to make a decision on the wind turbine planning application next month.

As revealed in last week’s MAIL, Councillors put off making a decision as they require clarification on a number of issues.

The fight to save the Lough Patrick site dates back to 2007 and more than 400 objections to the wind turbine proposal have been received by the Planning Office.

SDLP Councillor Kate Lagan, who attended the pilgrimage and supports protecting the site said: “Given the antiquity of the site as a Christian centre, Lough Patrick’s importance may predate the coming of Christianity and that it may well be an example of “enculturation” a pagan religious site that was “baptised” and given a new focus and meaning in honour of St Patrick. This was also the case of many holy wells.

“It is good to visit this place where people can enjoy the solitude and pray.The uniqueness of Lough Patrick cannot be ignored. It has been described as ‘that very rare thing, a surviving and still venerated ritual landscape’”.

The oldest pilgrim was 95-year-old John Bradley while the youngest was Brian McDermott, aged six years. In a lovely Spring afternoon the prayers were led by Winnie McEldowney.