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Irish Pilgrimages

Laura Haydon reports that as Ireland has been transformed from an impoverished rural society to a booming information economy, the Irish are attending church less and sending fewer young men into the priesthood. This apparent decline in religious devotion is reflected in the falling numbers of pilgrims to Lough Derg, a remote outpost in northwest Ireland, where Saint Patrick is believed to have had a vision of heaven and hell. To draw worshippers back, the Church is now offering pilgrims the option of attending a one-day retreat, rather than the traditional arduous three days of fasting, walking barefoot and going without sleep.

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