Irishman Sentenced to Pilgrimage

Only in Ireland.

A judge sentences a man convicted of drunken behavior and abusing a police officer to go on a pilgrimage. He is ordered to climb Croagh Patrick and to do the four stations on the holy mountain.

Mr McElwee reported to the court this week and showed the judge photographs of himself and 13 friends on top of the roughly 2,500ft mountain where St Patrick fasted for 40 days in the fifth century.

At the time of his conviction, the judge said: “I want you to come back with evidence that you did the four stations of Croagh Patrick and say a few prayers. You then might have a different impression of County Mayo and its people.”

The police officer whom Mr McElwee insulted grew up near the mountain.

Mr McElwee told the judge he regretted what he had done and had managed to raise money for charity during the climb. The judge asked if he had found climbing the mountain therapeutic and Mr McElwee said he had. Read more.

I remember listening to the radio shortly after we moved to Ireland. The host of a talk radio show was interviewing a Irish ex-patriot who came home to climb Croagh Patrick. He was a lawyer living in Denver. I suddenly realized that I knew the man. He was the father of one of the children in the Irish Dancing troupe my kids belonged to.

But he was on a different sort of “pilgrimage.” One of his good friends had died. He had promised, along with three other friends, to climb to the top of the mountain after the funeral. The friends were instructed to drink a bottle of whiskey when they reached the summit in honor of their dead friend.

I don’t think that is the kind of pilgrimage the judge in the news story had in mind.

Oh well the word whiskey does come from a Gallic word which means “water of life”.

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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