Féile Mhic Dara – Carna – 16th of July
Oiléan Mhic Dara in onóir Naomh Mac Dara.
Carna is in Connemara in the west of Ireland. Connemara is a beautiful, remote area, not good for farming, so it never boasted much of a population, and due to it’s remoteness, the English never quite managed to take it over. A good portion of the people here speak Irish. It boasts a beautiful coastline and rugged, stony, boggy countryside with climbable mountains which reveal spectacular views.
Mac Dara’s Island- a small island off the coast of Carna – was home in the sixth century to St. Mac Dara, Connemara’s most respected saint. He built a one-room chapel here, with a dirt floor, walls of huge stones and a steep stone roof. In 1975 the church was restored and today it is considered one of the finest early Christian oratories in Ireland. It is unique in the archaeological record because of the architectural features of its roof.
Féile Mhic Dara is held annually on the 16th of July in Carna. A long tradition of pilgrimage to the church on the island exists on this day for Mass and celebration (people also take picnics and go for strolls around the island if the weather is good). The local fishermen give of their time and their boats by ferrying people out to the island in the morning and back in the afternoon. Others make their way out by canoe, currach and hooker.
Afterwards there is a regatta for Galway Hooker’s and also Currach racing. (A lovely tradition dates back to the seventeenth century whereby fishermen and boatmen alike off the Connemara coast show their reverence for their patron saint, Mac Dara, by dipping their sails three times when passing the island.)
Irish music plays a big part on the pier as one leaves and returns, and later on that evening in the pubs of Carna. All in all, a truly, truly memorable event 🙂 !!