Castleisland Pilgrims Follow Canon Brosnan’s Stations on Cnoc na dTobar

A small group of Castleisland adventurers took themselves off down to Caherciveen on Good Friday. In doing so they were following a well lain trail by another ‘Islander’ and, in fact, an ancestor of a couple of the party.

The pilgrims included: Billy O’Rourke, Jack Nolan, Tony O’Callaghan and Fr. Brosnan’s decendants, Tadgh McGillicuddy and trip organiser, Mikie O’Connor.

While there they met, as you’ll see from the photographs, Tom O’Donoghue of Crag and former Kilmoyley and Kerry hurler and footballer Declan Lovett.

Their focus was on Cnoc na dTobar – a 690 metres high ridge situated abour four-and-a-half kilometres from the town that climbs the mountain and the one that so inspired the songs and writings of Sigerson Clifford.

Sacred Pilgrim Site

It has been a sacred pilgrim site since prehistoric and medieval times but its status as such was elivated by a Castleisland born priest, Canon Thade Brosnan of Tullig.

In 1885, Canon Brosnan, PP in Cahersiveen and builder of the Daniel O’ Connell Memorial Church, decided to build fourteen stations of the cross along the mountain’s  ancient trail.

The Good Friday tourists had an enjoyable day out but Canon Brosnan probably had a hand in the penance dished out to his fellow Islanders. They ran into winds which Mikey O’Connor could only describe as ‘hurricane force’ as they descended along a valley which funneled the wind right into their path.

Cnoc na dTobar is one of Ireland’s premier sacred mountains, similar to Croagh Patrick and Mount Brandon. It is also the most recent addition to the Pilgrim Paths of Ireland, one of just twelve pilgrim trails to be selected in the country.

Sixth Century Saint

The mountain was also important in Pagan Ireland as Cnoc na dTobar was the site of ancient  mountain assemblies, especially the festival of Lughnasa.

There, harvest was celebrated on the mountain’s summit. A fire was lit and singing and dancing competitions were held.

At the base of the mountain there is a healing well dedicated to St. Fursey or St. Fursa, the sixth century saint. The well is known for its healing mineral properties, especially for eye problems.

The experience was certainly an eye opener for our Castleisland pilgrims on Good Friday.