View of Mourne Mountains, County Down, from Dolly's Brae car park
With a view of the mountains and a nearby lake, this has become a favourite place for people to get away from it all during COVID restrictions and the current period of lock-down. Yesterday, (Tues 6th April) was the last day of the traditional Easter holidays. Here in Northern Ireland in normal times, many would have made a day-trip to the North Antrim coast or other seaside resort for a break.
This year, the Easter period has been much different. Travelling anywhere for leisure purposes where there are likely to be crowds, is discouraged; so thankfully, places like this forest exist. With statistics recording an increase in mental health problems during the lockdown period, it may help to spend some time in a different environment, preferably one that’s conducive to de-stressing.
2020 has been a most difficult year for many. Loss of life and livelihoods have been part of the package of the COVID pandemic. In today’s quote from Charles Swindoll, he advises us to put the past behind, and look to the future with hope. This may not be an easy thing to do, but thankfully there are natural resources that can help. Forests, lakes, the sea, and places of quietness and solitude can help de-stress the mind and give us hope for a better future.
Castlewellan Forest, County Down. A favourite for walkers and a place of refuge for people seeking a peaceful setting away from the stresses and anxieties of COVID and other life circumstances.
Portrush Presbyterian Church paid their own tribute to St Patrick (before COVID lockdown) with this poster outside the church
The River Quoile from Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, with a view of the Mound of Down Cathedral where St Patrick's remains are buried.
Some of the detail from the ruin of the 12th Century, Inch Abbey, in this peaceful island setting in County Down
A distant Down Cathedral, St Patrick's resting place, as seen from the grounds of Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, County Down
Part of St Patrick's Trail and popular site for visitors in Downpatrick
The text on the signage reads:
Inch Abbey was founded as a Cistercian Abbey by John De Courcy in the 1180s in atonement for his destruction of nearby Erenagh Abby
The Abbey was colonised by monks from Furness in Lancashire and, together with Grey Abbey, is the earliest example of Gothic architecture in Ireland and finest example of Anglo-Norman Cistercian architecture in Ulster. It may have been here that Jocelyn, a monk from Furness, wrote his life of Saint Patrick under the patronage of De Courcy as he attempted to win over the local population.
The island site still retains a feeling of peace and seclusion for the visitor, and as well as the picturesque ruins of the church and surrounding buildings, it is also possible to see more unusual survivals, including a bakehouse and possible infirmary.
Ancient ruin of former Cistercian Abbey - Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, County Down
High cross at the remains of an early Christian monastic settlement in County Louth.
This site which is a favourite with tourists, is a monastic settlement located at Monasterboice in County Louth. It was founded in the late 5th century by Saint Buite who was one of St. Patrick’s original followers. The cross above, known as the Tall Cross, stands at seven metres or twenty-two feet high, making it the tallest of the Irish crosses. The engravings depict stories from the Old and New Testament that would have been used to educate early Christians.
Also at Monasterboice, standing 5.2 metres high, the cross of Muiredach. This 'west face' depicts scenes from the New Testament and there are also scriptural panels on the sides.
It’s St Patrick’s Day! Wherever you may be, wishing everyone happiness and goodwill on this special day.
St Patrick figure from the Hill of Tara, County Meath
Patrick's tombstone at Down Church of Ireland Cathedral, County Down.
St Patrick's tombstone and local Council plaque at Down Cathedral
St Patrick's day 2019 - the last year the public could visit his grave before COVID restrictions of 2020 and 2021
Down Cathedral (Church of Ireland), Downpatrick, County Down
Slemish, County Antrim, where it is said Saint Patrick spent six years tending sheep as a slave from age sixteen
The St Patrick Visitor Centre, Downpatrick, County Down.
Want to find out more about St Patrick? Here’s a good place to start. The St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick can give you pointers to the many ancient sites, crosses, etc., with which he is associated. You’ll also be close to Down Cathedral where you can see his tombstone; Saul, where he built the first Christian church in Ireland, and the ancient monastic site and ruin at Inch Abbey is just a short drive away.
Figure of St Patrick at Hill of Tara, County Meath, where he defied the orders of the High King.
St Patrick's Church at Hill of Tara which has now been de-commissioned and opened as a visitor centre.
St Patrick's Cross at Clonmacnoise, County Offaly
The second St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh
One of the two St Patrick's Cathedrals in Armagh city.
Armagh has two Cathedrals, both bearing the name of St Patrick. The one above is the Roman Catholic Cathedral, and the one which we’ll feature in tomorrow’s post is the Protestant, St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral. They are located just a short distance from each other. Armagh is also the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland – the seat of the Archbishops of Armagh, the Primates of All Ireland for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland.