By Sean Ryan - 16 August, 2016
Strokestown community in Co Roscommon have expressed disappointment following the cancellation of this year’s annual Sliabh Bán pilgrimage due to ongoing construction work on a wind farm in the locality.
Up to 100 people normally take part in the walk to the Marian Cross on the mountain to mark Feast of the Assumption of Mary on 15 August every year.
However, the event was cancelled this year because 20 wind turbines are currently being built on the peak, with some already partly in place.
Coillte, the developers, said that with health and safety being paramount, it wasn’t safe for the walk to go through the site at present.
It said that it made contact with the organisers to try to devise an alternative date when the walk could be made.
However, speaking to local Shannonside FM, Anthony Gibbons, one of the pilgrimage’s organisers, claimed it was only at the last minute that Coillte told them it couldn’t go ahead.
He said, “We were contacted by Coilte to say we cannot do the walk because there is construction work going on the mountain with turbines. There is a crane up there which is directing the turbines at the first quarry and that turbine is directly on the pilgrims’ path. We are very disappointed that the walk cannot go-ahead and it cannot happen now until construction work is completed at that turbine at least.”
The pilgrimage follows the route across Sliabh Bán taken by monks who lived in Cloontuskert Abbey, which was founded by St Brendan and his brother St Faithleach in 520 AD.
St Faithleach was appointed the first prior at the Abbey.
The Abbey became well known throughout Ireland and Europe as a place of learning.
It is said that at one stage there were more than two thousand students attending lectures there.
Segments of the ruins of the original building still remain. It is thought that Cloontuskert Abbey was the first abbey founded in Co Roscommon.