A discovery of Northern Ireland’s lost holy relic

It was not the first time that the lives of these two women changed radically. Kelly is a former family law attorney; while Purdy was a prominent political correspondent for the BBC who grilled many politicians, gaining a reputation as a no-nonsense journalist during her coverage of both The Troubles and the eventual signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which finally saw peace come to Northern Ireland in 1998.

“As I interviewed politicians, I realized more and more that I thought more and more that this person needed a lot of prayers,” she explained. “Then in 2014, I decided to take the plunge and give up my career to dedicate my life to God.”

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Based in Belfast, the Sisters of Adoration are a Catholic order founded in 1848, but as with most religious organisations, dwindling buttocks on seats, and with them donations, mean money is tight – and that’s is even before counting the cost of Brexit and the Covid pandemic on people’s incomes. It was during the latter that, while searching for answers about what to do with their lives now that they had literally wandered astray, they stumbled upon another path – on a map.

Look at an Ordnance Survey map of this section of the coast, between Killian Point in the north and Newcastle in the south, and there is a marked trail named Lecale Way.

“But it wasn’t always called that,” Kelly said, as we took a minibus to a place called Ballyhoran Bay and descended onto the beach where the waves pulled and pushed the small pebbles onto the shore. She pulled out her own well-used Ordnance Survey map and pointed out several broken lines that indicated walking trails near where we were. Sure enough, the words “St Patrick’s Way” (not to be confused with the 82-mile St Patrick’s Way founded in 2015 by artist Alan Graham which connects Armagh and Downpatrick) were printed in black ink – although they weren’t seemed more like a cohesive trail with many sections that wear out.

Colloquially, it was called St. Patrick’s Way or the Pilgrim’s Way because of its close connection to Patrick, she explained.

About Patricia Kilgore

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