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Pilgrims’ Progress: The Changing Nature of Visitors to Religious Sites in Ireland Frances McGettigan Corina Griffin THRIC 15 th June 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Pilgrims’ Progress: The Changing Nature of Visitors to Religious Sites in Ireland Frances McGettigan Corina Griffin THRIC 15 th June 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pilgrims’ Progress: The Changing Nature of Visitors to Religious Sites in Ireland Frances McGettigan Corina Griffin THRIC 15 th June 2011

2 Outline Introduction Research Objectives Chosen Sites: Lough Derg, Clonmacnoise Methodology Results Conclusion

3 Travel to Religious Sites Motivated by Prayer Search for Divine Favour ( Timothy and Boyd, 2003; Murray and Graham, 1997; Turner, 1978). Cultural and Historical importance (Richards & Fernandez, 2007; Olsen & Dallen, 2006; Digance, 2003; Petrillo, 2003; Vukonic, 2002). Aim of this study is to provide an insight into changing nature of visitors to religious sites Emergence of A Spiritual component (McGettigan & Burns, 2001; McGettigan, 2003; Digance, 2006; Reader, 2007; Richards & Fernandes; 2007)

4 Research Objectives Research Objective 1: To analyse the socio-demographic profile and origin of visitors at religious sites Research Objective 2: To identify the main reasons visitors come to religious sites. Research Objective 3: To provide some indication of future demand for religious sites

5 Lough Derg

6 The Lough Derg Experience Lough Derg has always been a bit of an enigma - a place where people fast and walk barefoot and walk in circles repeatedly does not make much sense to those on the outside- but to the pilgrim the experience is profound. (www.loughderg.org) ‏

7 Traditional Lough Derg Pilgrimage Core Product: 3 Day Pilgrimage 1 daily meal of dry toast and black tea 1 all-night vigil Bare-foot stations

8 Array of Products 3-day pilgrimages3-day pilgrimages 1-day retreats1-day retreats Ecumenical dayEcumenical day Family dayFamily day Quiet dayQuiet day Exploring Spirituality through Art.Exploring Spirituality through Art. Mother and Daughter day.Mother and Daughter day.

9 Clonmacnoise Monastic Site

10 Clonmacnoise 6 th Century Monastic Site (St. Cíarán) Outstanding example of an insular Monastic City Ecological significance: unique and diverse range of flora and fauna World Heritage Site Status Application 160,000 (approx.) visitors annually

11 Clonmacnoise Site Functions Functions of Clonmacnoise Cultural Tourist Attraction Roman Catholic Site of Worship/ Burial Church of Ireland Site of Worship/ Burial Youth 2000 Festival Site

12 Methodology Quantitative 200 on-site visitor surveys at Lough Derg and Clonmacnoise SPSS analysis Qualitative -30 in depth interviews with the stakeholders -Open ended questions included in the visitor surveys NVIVO analysis

13 Literature Review: Spiritual Motivations Pilgrims’ spiritual motivations outweigh religious motivations ATLAS SIG cited in Griffin (2007:18)‏ Emerging category of tourist: Spiritually motivated tourist. Seeking mental tune-up. McGettigan (2003:17)‏

14 Literature Review: Cultural Motivations Many trips in the category of cultural tourism involve a trip to a religious site. (Richards & Fernandes 2007:217) Study of churches and religious sites in Italy 93% of tourists reported cultural motivation. (Petrillo 2003)

15 Literature Review: Experiential Component Search for authentic experience (Shackley 2001:11) The Experience Economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999)‏

16 Experiential Factor in Tourism 'The huge thing that we have done and acknowledged in tourism in the last number of years is that people are no longer looking for a holiday, they are looking for an experience. They want hands-on activity. They want to actually feel something. That is really important...the experiential.‘ (Failte Ireland Development Officer2009)‏

17 The consumer (tourist) searches for emotional experiences. Weiermair (2001) Literature Review: Experiential Component ‘ Experiential qualities' of visiting sacred sites such as 'sensing' the sacred in the air and water or performing sacred rituals such as prayer and purification. Mazumdar & Mazumdar (2004)

18 Findings Research Objective 1: To analyse the socio-demographic profile and origin of visitors at religious sites. Research Objective 2: To identify the main reasons visitors come to religious sites. Research Objective 3: To provide some indication of future demand for religious sites

19 Research Objective 1: Who Visits? Visitor Profiles created for each site.

20 Lough Derg Pilgrim Profile ORIGIN: Predominantly of Irish origin with a minority of international visitors RELIGION: Predominantly practicing Roman Catholic, frequent Church attendees EDUCATION: Wide range of education levels with 67% having some form of further education EMPLOYMENT STATUS: 66% employed or self-employed OCCUPATION: Wide range of occupations but predominantly professional GENDER: Predominantly female (70%) AGE: Wide range of age-group but 49% of pilgrims are 50+ Figure 1

21 Clonmacnoise Visitor Profile ORIGIN: Predominantly from Mainland Europe but a majority of Irish visitors attending religious events RELIGION: Wide range of religions and levels of religiosity EDUCATION: Predominantly well-educated with 49% having a degree or higher degree EMPLOYMENT STATUS: 48% employed or self-employed OCCUPATION: Wide range of occupations but predominantly professional GENDER: Equal representation from both genders AGE: Wide range of age- groups but predominant age group is Figure 2

22 Research Objective 2: Why do they visit? Cultural Pilgrim or Religious interest SpiritualHealth and Wellness A wide array of Motivations

23 Lough Derg Motivations Figure 3

24 Clonmacnoise Motivations Figure 4

25 “A Quest for Meaning” ‘I think essentially the Early Christian period is what people are most interested in, the early Irish monasteries. Clonmacnoise is a really good example of that. You know people are searching for some sort of connection in life and they can seek it through early religion and Celtic mysticism ’ (JOD Tour Operator)

26 Emerging Motivations Visitors to Clonmacnoise are, therefore, exhibiting deeper intrinsic spiritual motivations. Traditional pious pilgrim to Lough Derg motivations are giving way to a desire for peace, tranquility, contemplation and holistic wellness.

27 Lough Derg Wellness Experience Physical Health/ Wellness e.g. Fasting, walking, alleviation of stress through time-out of normal routine Mental Health/Wellness e.g. Decluttering and quietening of the mind through repetitive exercises and prayer and through the peace and tranquility of the site, time and space for reflection and meditation Emotional Health/Wellness e.g. Counseling service, sharing of emotions and experiences with other pilgrims, release of negative emotions through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, improved self- esteem and sense of achievement from having completed the pilgrimage Spiritual Health/Wellness e.g. Interaction with a Higher Power, interaction with others, interaction with nature, discovery of One’s authentic Self through meditation and time out experience, inner peace and tranquility, perceived cleansing of the spirit Figure 5

28 ‘I became more positive and (…) more in touch with my spirituality again...’ (MT) ‘I definitely had more of a connection with my Higher Power(…) coming away, and just felt better, lighter.’ (KJS) Clonmacnoise Experience at Youth 2000 Festival

29 Indications of Future Demand Tour operators note that this sector is particularly resilient to economic downturn. Evidence of renewed interest in spiritual matters. Evidence of renewed quest for meaning not confined to traditional organised religion. Continued growth in demand is therefore likely.

30 Increasingly broadening array of consumers and motivations. Highly significant number of spiritual and wellness motivations reported but continued demand for religious experience also evident. Sacred Sites provide deep experiences. Visiting a sacred site – important aspect of Spiritual Quest. Conclusion


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