Squirrel in the steps of Richard Armitage and the Pilgrimage crew

Squirrel and her family took one for the team on their recent family vacation! Check out her story.


Hello! Here are my Irish pagan pilgrimage memories, as a tribute to some scenes from the movie, Pilgrimage, and to the curious subjects of my current, variegated studies. They are meant to be descriptive for tourists and a playful tool and incentive for the “fans” who might be tempted to take this journey in the footsteps of the film Pilgrimage. I dedicate it to Servetus and Guylty, who I thank for her great advice! Happy reading!

A Journey to the Roots of Christianity and to Normans Invasion History and to Literary Culture


St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is built on the site where St. Patrick conducted the first conversions of the Irish to Catholicism. Its choir is composed mainly of stalls, in which the Knights of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick settled during the ceremonies. These stalls are surmounted by crests bearing their personal emblems and a flag bearing their coat of arms.

Choir, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Squirrel’s photo.

Christchurch Cathedral: I mention selectively the stone tomb of the Anglo-Norman Richard de Clare, nicknamed “Strongbow,” with his fabulous spurs. He was one of the most famous Norman lords of Ireland and, by tradition, debts were paid across his tomb. His original monument was “broken by the fall from the roof” in 1562 and “set up.” Strongbow is actually buried in the graveyard of the Ferns Cathedral.

Effigy of Strongbow, as it appears today.

Trinity College: The Old Library contains over 4.25 million printed volumes & significant quantities of manuscripts (including the Book of Kells), maps and music, facilitating access to cultural content in digital format for all. Thought-provoking minds have succeeded each other there. It’s recognized as a top international research center. So what about learning XIIIth century history before making a script and storyboard? (Just kidding.)

The Old Library, Trinity College.

English-language edition of Jeoffrey Keating, General History of Ireland [English name of Seathrún Céitinn, original tite Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, completed ca. 1634].

My son and daughter liked Dublin. They were enthusiastic and this is rare! They would be willing to plan a university internship there, or even to move and live there permanently, as far as my daughter is concerned.

A journey in the footsteps of the film Pilgrimage: WESTPORT, North County Mayo

Climbing up “Croagh Patrick Hill” (the misty peak on the right)

Dynamic, reckless “Squirrel” family on the way up — my husband, me, and my daughter


“Croagh Patrick,” “the Reek,” “Holy Mountain,” “Cruach Phádraig,” or “Teach na Miasa”: Croagh Patrick was reputedly a site of pagan pilgrimage, since 3,000 BCE, especially for the summer solstice, and was once a Druid site. It is now a site of Christian pilgrimage associated with St. Patrick, who is said to have spent 40 days and nights fasting and praying for the conversion of Ireland in the fifth century. This mountain is home to an eleventh century monastery.

Squirrel fils (foreground) and Squirrel


A seam of gold was discovered on the Reek in the 1980s: overall grades of 14 g (0.45 ozt) of gold per tonne in at least 12 quartz veins, which could produce 700,000 t of ore – potentially over 300,000 troy oz of gold (worth over €300 million). In 1989 plans to mine for gold drew huge opposition from the local community in Mayo, which launched a campaign to save the mountain. They succeeded in preventing gold mining. Mayo County Council elected not to allow mining, deciding that the gold was “fine where it was.” No attempts have been made to mine the mountain since.

On the way up the mountain, the exhausted and wet fan’s family would have sung “Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold”

This 764 m (2,507 ft) mountain was hard to climb because the surface of its path is made up of stones, cobbles, and pebbles.  The weather was sunny, cloudy, windy and even rainy.

East view from the top of the hill: bog farms; white plastic tarps covering peat; pine forest exploitation

On the last Sunday in July is the real pilgrimage. We climbed on Saturday, the day before. Some landscapes of the movie Pilgrimage were shot there.

Stunning west view from the middle of the hill: stone walls, sheep, 365 islands at Westport, Clew Bay, around which the last final movie scene was shot. For more about Clew Bay, I recommend this BBC video.


A filling, satiating, nourishing, gargantuan meal: the perfect basis for hiking.

“Irish breakfast” with tea

“Irish Burger” with Coke

“Irish stew” or “Stobhach Gaelach” with Guiness

Irish meringue, crumble, apple cheese or cupcake


Not far from Westport coast:

Beautiful graveyard with memorials to the victims of Achill’s greatest tragedies, the Clew Bay Drowning (1894) and the Kirchintilloch Fire (1937)


Rockfleet Castle, associated with Grace O’Malley, a fearless female leader who gained fame as sea captain and pirate. Not only men!


It’s a heartbreaking place for fundamentally different reasons.

The R335 from Westport in County Mayo to Leenane in County Galway is one of Ireland’s most beautiful scenic routes. North of Delphi in a typical old glacial valley, along the route, lies the beautiful Doo Lough Pass (“Black Lake”) between Mweelrea Mountain and the Sheeffry Hills.

“Doo Lough”, “Dhulough” or “Duloch”. Today, the monument in Doolough valley has an inscription, a quotation from Mahatma Gandhi: “How can men feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings?”

Delphi Lodge was a shooting location and resort for the film crew, but a historic place of high human tragedy, too. One of Ireland’s most poignant spots is the site of the Doo Lough Tragedy, during the Great Famine of 1849. Many starving residents were forced to walk twenty miles or more in bad weather from Louisburgh to Delphi Lodge to attend an inspection and get famine relief. They were instructed to appear at 7:00 am, then sent back towards the town of Louisburgh, some twelve miles distant. It is supposed that more than 400 people died at Doo Lough on the journey.

A rather deserted place

At the end of «Doo Lough» lake – Salmon fishing ground

My dream would have been to fly as an osprey or an eagle above Delphi: “The Sheeffry Seven,” where I would have liked hiking if I had time enough. A video is here.

Our journey continued with views of many film locations:

Further down “Delphi Pass” towards Leelane was a natural wild salmon river dam – Ashleagh Falls

Sheep, heather, water bogs — like everywhere (the most characteristic features of Ireland 1/6)

Bog exploitation: cut peat collected to dry and gathered in blocks of turf called sods

Summery, green wooded valley as in Pilgrimage.

Beginning of Killary fjord entering Leenane (movie location in the fjord there).


Hiking on “Diamond Hill,” “Bengooria,” or “Binn Ghuaire,” meaning Guaire’s Peak in English. It’s a friendly, cultural place to discover, a charming way to approach the hidden treasures of Connemara. There are many topics of great interest to focus on. The “Diamond Hill” is 445 meters (1,450 ft) high but easy to climb, and the paths are extremely well kept.

If I were younger and in better health, I would have tried the top hikes in Connemara: Owenglin Circuit Twelve Bens Galway or Traverse of the Maamturk Mountains, Connemara.

View of “Diamond Hill” from the garden of the Visitor Centre at Letterfrack

Hill surrounded with bogs and redhead.

Walking on sphagnum, mosses, and lichens on a bog path yields a strange sensation of softness, elasticity and sponginess. There are protected wildflowers to look at too: the Bog Asphodel, the Common Cotton-grass, the Foxglove, the Bugle, the Bogbean, the 2 Heathers: Calluna or Erica, the strange Butterwort and Round-leaved Sundew, and more common ones such as the Meadowswett, the Purple Loosestrife …

My daughter and I on “Diamond Hill,” on the quartzite path

Up “Diamond Hill,” the side view of “Twelves Bens” or “Twelve Pins” mountains and Kylemore Lake

Up hill gorgeous view of the “Twelve Bens” in Gaelic “Na Beanna Beola” (a known movie location area)


My most difficult adventure, trying to drive on the left side of the road

Burren & Cliffs of Moher geology discovery

Walls of Dublin (1)

Walls of Dublin (2)

Walls of Dublin (3)


Our holiday visit for pleasure was too short! We promise to be back next year, Madame Ireland!

Thank you all those who kindly welcomed, helped us, advised or inspired us to seek out this destination.

A special thank to my teenagers who took the pictures and helped me to send them. I conceived the text, but I took some sentences directly from Irish sources. Strongbow isn’t our photo, either.

ps: a link to an article about looking for ancient relics in Connemara.

~ by Servetus on August 24, 2017.

23 Responses to “Squirrel in the steps of Richard Armitage and the Pilgrimage crew”

  1. Thanks for sharing all of these photos and experiences with us. One of the things I found so fascinating about the film visually was how varied the Irish landscape looked (a lot of this is not what the Irish tourism board advertises in the US). Your impressions really confirm that. Yes, there’s plenty of green, but also plenty of other stuff. So what is peat really like? “Bog” is kind of an insult / ethnic slur in the US, but what you show is really pretty.


    • Thank you for your great work of correction, presentation and for respecting the spirit of the original text (the videos that I chose to add).
      I didn’t want to write something about “our family pilgrimage” but my son transfered his pictures on my computer and when I saw them I couldn’t do otherwise but sharing them.
      My first purpose was TO WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT PEAT, BUGS AND BOG BODIES (my main fascinating study in Ireland) sorry not RA first. You fast guessed the gaps of this presentation, my interest in peat bogs and in Ireland’s history had to be too apparent between the lines. I started writing last sunday but the subject is not easy, this is gonna take me a little time to completly get through it.
      THE TRIP WAS COMPLETELY IMPROVISED, so very different from any Irish tourism board advertises (a mishap not scheduled of course per day). Many pictures about other subjects remain unworkable in this text focused mainly on the movie, many other sites of the shooting remain to be traveled through in future.
      Thank you for sharing this text and stimulating me to get back to work to talk about peat. Finally you are a great teacher.


      • Thanks for writing the post — it got about 180 unique views on WP, and it was featured as the “post of the day” for the Richard Armitage Daily on twitter. So people definitely saw it.


    • So in the picture I hold a brown earthen block. It is a dried slice of cut peat called turf in Ireland. Even a manufactured peat briquette is called turf.
      Bogs are lowland phenomena. In special moors called bog (a wet, acid without oxygene area) dead plants decompose very slowly and accumulate over time becoming what is called peat. http://puu.sh/xiGjo/eb2c54c35f.png
      The black lines visible on my bog pictures are actually ground breaking lines where peat is extracted (ex: “Hill surrounded with bogs and redhead”). Standing the sods of turf upright and leaning them against each other is called ‘footing’. The turf, sods are then stacked in small mound called stack. Once the turf is deemed dry enough it is gathered together into a great mound or rick for storing and covered with plastic tarps to protect them, as shown in the photo “Bog exploitation”.


      • Interesting. So I guess people really think mostly about the (for lack of a better word) “decaying” aspects of the bog (as opposed to the vegetation that grows on them).


        • After hours and hours of technical studies, I can say that peatlands are a complex world with an aspect of degradation and also of construction. But their ecological and heritage values make it necessary to protect them and keep a reasoned exploitation.


  2. What a nice “tour” of Pilgrimage’s Irish scenery. Thank you and your children for sharing it with us. It was very interesting.I hope I can see the film soon.


  3. Thank you very much for taking us on your excursions! I have enjoyed every bit and pic!


  4. Thank you so much for sharing all this. The scenery and videos are wonderful. Being Scottish and living for many years in the Northwest Highlands much of the scenery you travelled through and the terrain looked very similar to me. Peat bogs abounded around the villages where we lived and many people still burned the dry peats on their fires. A really distinctive smell when they burn!


    • Thank you very much, I am enjoying and I am living your words. You were a lucky child!


      • Interestingly, I now live not far away from an area known as Burns Bog – a 3,000 hectare raised bog – apparently the largest undeveloped urban landmass in North America. Also known as an “ombrotrophic” peat bog. Worth checking out on the Internet if you would like to find out more about it. It’s an amazing place.


        • I understand , I saw principally raised bog on my Irish holidays trip.
          At first in the National Museum in Dublin and then on the net, I found schematic cross-sections of “Tourbière ombrotrophe bombée” : Raised bog. For my English teachers in France I wrote in my futur article that about Irish bogs:
          Mainly they are 2 types of bogs in Ireland:
          * The raised bogs or climatic peat, cover. They form from grass in areas of high rainfall on the west coast. +++
          * The blanked bogs or topographic bogs, consisting essentially of decomposing mosses in the less humid areas of the center of the country.
          It is nice to find a soul mate interested in the same scientific subjects
          in this fandom. Thanks to Servetus who allow us to speak about that. (But I can’t speak with everyone about bog bodies)


      • I grew up in a city actually and only moved to the Highlands when we married. My children were brought up there though.


  5. How lovely that you posted the journey here! It all looks stunning, Squirrel. Looks like you had a great time. 🙂


    • Yes indeed it was for all of us! The country is a diversified land, the landscapes are astonishing (Ireland is an open book on history, geography, natural sciences) and the people are wonderful. Despite no sea baths in the ocean, I recommend vacation there without reservation. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing your photos and the history of the area. I haven’t been to Ireland since I was a girl when we were on a family holiday. I am interested in the history and the beautiful landscape, though. I’m around a quarter Irish, with my ancestors coming to Canada long ago. I recently bought the 5-hour BBC series “The Story of Ireland”, which I’ve just started watching.


    • I wish you good hours of discoveries on the track of your ancestors with the BBC famous series.
      So many subjects are telescoped through history, fictions, family destinies personal interests to get fun entertainment. It also provided an opportunity for those wishing to study in their own time for personal interest and self-development. I LIKE THAT TO STUDY WITH FUN.

      Liked by 1 person

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