Féile Lúghnasa Festival: July 26th – 30th July 2018
Lúghnasa is a Celtic harvest festival that dates back 2,000 years. Revived in 1995, the Festival features music, children’s activities, stage dramas as well as many local traditions, including sheep shearing, a blessing of the boats at Brandon Pier, and a pilgrimage to the summit of Mount Brandon.
The schedule of events is available in all of the local bars, Siopa An Phobail, Information Centre Cloghane and at the Halla Le Chéile.
Activities throughout the four days feature a poker tournament, paddle boarding, swimming races, fancy dress, sandcastle-building competition, a stage drama that is created annually for the festival, several hill walks, and plenty of other activities to delight the whole family.
Central to Féile Lúghnasa is the pilgrimage to the summit of Mount Brandon. At 952 metres, it is the second highest mountain in Ireland and one of the finest hill walks in all of Ireland, featuring breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea. There are only three such pilgrimages at this time of year in Ireland, Mount Brandon being one of them.
The first farmers in the region celebrated Lúghnasa with a solemn cutting on the first corn and offering to the deity by burying it at the top of Mount Brandon. All would have then participated in a meal of the new food. The sacrifice of a sacred bull may have taken place followed by a feast of its flesh, some rite with the bulls hide, a ritual dance play and struggle for supremacy with victory symbolised by the installation of the stone head of Crom Dubh on Brandon’s summit and a ceremony of triumph over it by an actor chosen to represent Crom’s adversary, Lugh.
Pilgrims follow the well-trodden path from the grotto at Faha, angling upwards across the hill and passing Benagh Promontory Fort, above to the right. At the entrance to the Coom, the path becomes stonier with a steep drop to the left. Near the head of the valley, the river is crossed at the marked point, the path then winds between the highest lakes at the foot of the Esk, a steep section leading to the saddle. It is here on clear days gives the most fantastic views of the magnificent coastal scenery on the western side of the mountain. From the saddle, pilgrims turn left at the top. The remains of an early Christian hermitage, attributed to St. Brendan, crown the summit.
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