Tús support for heritage and tourism: The July pilgrimage in St Mullins

 

Keith Parker, MA anthropology, is a Carlow County Development Partnership Tús participant. His placement is with the Scout Troup in Borris where he also contributes to the design and content of the Parish Newsletter.  From his own personal interests and his area of study, Keith has developed excellent skills in the areas of local history and traditions and he is researching in a number of areas to support local tourism and heritage.    Keith has had articles published in The Carlow Nationalist.  His most recent appeared on July 11th 2017, detailing the pilgrimage in St Mullins which has its origins in the 7th Century.  Below is a copy of the article.

 

EACH July sees the annual celebration of the pattern take place at St Mullins in the south of Co Carlow. It is an ancient tradition in the form of a pilgrimage and accompanying fair, which usually occurs on the first Sunday before St James’s Day (25 July).
St James was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ and is the patron saint of pilgrims. The term ‘pattern’ is believed to be a corruption of the word ‘patron’ and is by no means a tradition unique to Carlow. Legend has it that the initiation of St Mullins as a place of pilgrimage occurred in the seventh century AD. St Moling, who was quite an industrious and entrepreneurial character, laboured for many years to realise the construction of a millrace (a stream which powers the turning of a mill wheel). He is said to have consecrated the completion of this stream on St James’s Day and the earliest form of the pilgrimage consisted of wading against the water of the millrace to obtain the intercession of the Irish saint in the afterlife.
However, it is thought by many that patterns in general and their association with holy wells have some of their origins in pre-Christian rituals.
The circumambulation of holy sites during the pilgrimage, which involves the circling of a stone or stone altar as part of a religious rite, bears similarity to the circular movements (deiseal) which are believed to have occurred during pagan rituals and can still be seen in some belief systems today.
Whatever the origin of this annual event, the curative powers of the holy well and the yearly fair seem to have maintained the ability to draw thousands of visitors to the site throughout ancient and modern times. Other historical events also served to add momentum to the development of the pilgrimage.
The Black Death of 1348AD saw thousands of pilgrims descend on St Mullins in the hopes of obtaining a cure or gaining protection from the deadly pestilence.
From the 1540s AD onwards, the confiscation and/or destruction of Catholic churches began a movement of Catholic parishioners back towards these holy sites. This movement was extended even further with the introduction of the Penal Laws in 1607AD and Catholicism in Ireland was forced to relocate outdoors as holy sites became centres of secret worship and devotion.
The route and ritual of the pilgrimage also progressed in form and function. At one stage, the bearing the pattern took consisted of walking around the site of St Moling’s mill nine times before progressing to the ruins of St James’s cell (which may have been built in honour of the original consecration of the millrace).
By the 19th century, it had evolved into a much more elaborate form of ritual which consisted of three penitential rounds of the holy well, the drinking of water from the well, wading through a stream which flowed from the well, progressing uphill for  silent prayer at the high cross, three rounds of the ruins of St James’s cell, three further rounds of the ecclesiastical site itself, nine rounds at the grave of St Moling in the ruins of Teampall Mór (big church) and final prayers in the sanctuary of this same church.
At various stages of the procession people crawled on their hands and knees or walked barefoot. Today, people drink from the holy well before attending the graveyard Mass held at the penal altar.
Although the millrace, which gave birth to the pilgrimage, at least in legend, no longer featured as a focal point for religious devotion, it was used in other ways over the centuries. In 824/5AD, for example, Vikings diverted water from the millrace into a nearby moat as part of the tactical fortifications they made in the area. The millrace has long ceased to function as a water course, but evidence of its existence can still be clearly traced along the landscape.
The fair, however, has retained its special importance throughout the ages and at times has taken the profile of a more boisterous affair than might be expected. In 1839, a staggering 80 gallons of whiskey were brought in for the celebration of the pattern. The resulting outbreak of public disorder resulted in a riot with police before one man was shot dead.
Copious amounts of whiskey may no longer form part of the pattern today; however, you can be sure of a huge attendance at an event that has managed to bridge the centuries and seems set to continue in the same manner for some time to come.
 


Katrina's Journey

 

Katrina Curry is a current Tús participant who has taken the opportunity to follow her goal.  After her previous place of employment had been sold, Katrina looked at what her next steps would be.

I had completed a Business & I.T course after completing my Leaving Cert, but after several interviews I was always told I didn’t have enough experience. I spent 11 years working in my parents bar until it was sold but always wanted to pursue an administrative role using the knowledge I gained at college”

With the help of Carlow County Development Partnership, a Tús placement was found within Katrina’s local community in the Forward Steps Resource Centre that would allow Katrina to work in an administrative role as a receptionist.  The placement started in September 2016 and is currently on going.

“In my 9 months here,  I have picked up all the skills needed for running a reception area from answering phones, typing, post, ordering stationary & supplies, invoicing & helping with event management.”

Katrina was appointed a Tús supervisor who was able to utilize  funding provided to help Katrina to upskill.  The TESG grant  is available to all Tús participants to use towards training that may help the participant to further improve their skills in order to better their chances in employment.

“Thanks to my Tús supervisor I have begun an online Business & Finance Diploma course. We sourced the course online and my supervisor helped me apply for my TESG grant which funded it. This is something which I couldn’t have afforded on my own. I hope this will help me secure full time employment when my placement  is complete. It gives me the options of a career in banking, admin or insurance.”

Katrina has found in her placement a place where she is happy, motivated and enjoying what the Tús Scheme opportunity has brought her.  Not only is she recognized as a key member of staff but has helped create friendships

“What I really love about my placement is the people! From day 1 I was made feel welcome and part of the team straight away. Whether you are a full time, part time, CE scheme or Tús worker everyone is treated the same. I have made many friends for life here at forward steps who have all made my time enjoyable. The time is going by way too fast.  I will be sad the day I have to say goodbye to all my work buddies, if I could stay longer I would.”

At the time of writing Katrina has another 3 months on the Tús scheme. After that she will have to vacate for the opportunity to be available to someone else.


Tús : Paul’s Story

 

Paul Doyle is a former Tús participant who took up an opportunity as a handyman with the ‘Care and Repair’ programme in Carlow County Development Partnership CLG. Having spent 20 seasons working in the sugar factory in Carlow, Paul found himself out of work following its closure. He had turned his hand to many jobs and worked in quarrying, building and in security before he found himself without work.

He was delighted when the opportunity arose with Tús in the ‘Care and Repair’ programme as he found he was spending lots of time with older people, which he loved:

I have always loved being around older people. I am drawn to them and I love the banter and the craic with  them. In my job with Tús I spent lots of time in the company of older people fixing something or carrying out small jobs for them. After a while they started asking for me by name and sometimes the job would be very small and you’d realise it’s the chat they really want! And that’s what I loved most about the job – the interaction with the people – and the jobs were almost secondary.’

When Paul’s time on the Tús scheme came to an end, the team encouraged him to further explore his love for work with older people. Paul was offered the opportunity to study a Fetac Level 5 Healthcare course in the VEC  in Bagenalstown, which offered the possibility of employment in the area of caring for older people upon completion.

‘I spent many years caring for my mother who only very recently died and so I have lots of experience of  working with the elderly along with the time spent on the Tús Care and Repair Programme. But these days you need the education to go along with that to get a job. I am nearly 30 years out of education so it was a big  step for me to consider going back. And it’s tough, but I hope it will be worth it in the end. If it gets me a job in  a nursing home or in the field of caring for the elderly I will be happy. All you can ask for is a job you like and a wage at the end of the week and that is what I hope to get out of this course’, says Paul.

The team at Tús continued to be available to support Paul while he was undertaking his course and he knew that he could avail of our expertise whenever needed. The routine of attending class every day was new and required discipline. While completing assignments and meeting deadlines can be daunting for those returning
to education after a long period of time, Paul’s experience shows that it is possible with support to return to  education, change career path and successfully gain employment.


Labour Market Activation: Targeted supports to Tús participants

As part of a person-centered approach to individuals who are seeking to get back into the workplace, Carlow County Development Partnership seeks to provide a comprehensive training and support programme to our clients on our Tus scheme,  through a collaborative interdepartmental approach. As part of this, we offer an  an ongoing series of training days entitled 'Road to Work' which is facilitated by Lucy Stevenson (Tus Supervisor), Fergal Bolger (Tus Supervisor) and Dylan Thomas (Education and social Inclusion Specialist, SICAP). These training sessions have received very positive feedback and are part of a structured support system, enabling participants to re-acquaint themselves witht he demands of the working environment.


Tús Support for local groups: Clonegal

 

Clonegal in County Carlow has earned itself the reputation as one of the prettiest towns in Ireland following their success in prestigious awards such as The Tidy Towns competition and the Entente Florale Europe.

The reputation is well-deserved and a credit to the people behind the Tidy Towns committee and also to the Tús participants who over the years have been instrumental in the physical task of keeping Clonegal beautifully landscaped and litter-free. Marie Byrne, secretary of the Tidy Towns committee is passionate about Clonegal despite describing herself as  a ‘Dublin blow-in to the village’. She, along with her fellow committee members appreciate the beauty, history and unique aspect of Clonegal and play a significant role in the community effort made by the people of the village in their bid to make Clonegal the Tidiest Village in Ireland.

‘We are very proud of Clonegal and what we have achieved for our village. Everyone takes a personal interest in ensuring that the village is well kept and we also have great support from the Tús workers over the years. Their input was invaluable when we represented Ireland in the Entente Florale in 2013 and won the Gold Medal. We have a small workforce and therefore the availability of a Tús worker to us made a big impact. They are so willing and so helpful’, says Marie.

In order to prepare Clonegal for that  competition, there was considerable planning and physical work undertaken by the committee. In 2014, with the support of Tús participants, they developed a new community garden for the use of the people of Clonegal and visitors to the village as they come to the end of the ‘Wicklow Way’ walk.

"We walk the town and make a list of what needs to be done at the beginning of the year and then we speak with the Tús supervisor who in turn prepares a work schedule for each Tús worker. We know that if we ask them to do a job it will be done. They are so reliable and dedicated. We would be lost without the help of the Tús workers” Marie says.

In 2015, the ‘Weavers Cottage’ was supported by Tús with a participant on site to keep the cottage  open for visitors. The Tidy Towns committee of Clonegal depends on the additional support of Tús as it takes pressure off the committee and regular volunteers who are always in demand.  In that year, Clonegal was named Ireland’s tidiest village in the national Tidy Towns awards for the second year running. and in 2016 it was awarded a Gold Medal in the same competition.

The Tús workers offer invaluable support to the Tidy Towns committee. We are a small village so it is the same people doing the same work all of the time. The Tús workers relieve some of the pressure and not only that, they do a fantastic job – they know what they are doing. We are always there for them too – I think it is a mutually beneficial relationship!’ says Marie.

There is currently one Tús participant supporting the work of the community as they come together to make their village one of the nicest places to live in Carlow.

The LEADER programme has also supported Clonegal over the years, including in the upgrade of a rural walk, developing a DVD to market the town and publication of a tourism brochure.

Carlow County Development Partnership is delighted to have supported the work of this community in numerous ways  over the years. They are an example of what can be done when people come together to make their part of the world better in little ways, day by day. Everyone has something to give. It doesn’t matter what our age, our skills, or our passions are....we can join together to make Carlow a great place to live.

 


Labour Market Activation: Tús and VISUAL Centre

 

The VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art is the largest gallery space in Ireland, with 4 galleries and a 330 seater theatre space. Opened in 2009, the arts centre presents national and international art and theatre to a local and national audience. There are up to 15 staff working in VISUAL across many departments and the gallery is underpinned by a vision to create a space for audiences, artists and communities to engage with, explore and be inspired by contemporary art and performance.

For the last 3 years, Tús and VISUAL have worked together to enable young people develop their skills within an arts setting. Participants have spent a year on an internship learning about marketing, box office, front of house, gallery administration, hosting workshops, curation and digital marketing activities. These skills have given the participants a solid foundation in understanding how an organization works, how an arts venue is run and also working across many disciplines. Participants have gone on to get work in VISUAL, based on their internship. The current Tús Supervisor responsible for VISUAL is Lucy Stevenson

This collaboration is a good example of the value of the Tús programme to the arts and cultural life of the county.


Bagenalstown Area

Labour Market Activation: Tús work benefiting the Community: Queen of the Universe National School, Bagenalstown

One of the positive aspects of the Tús Programme is the fact that it benefits both the participant and the community where the participant is placed.  The participant gains valuable work experience and skills as well as a supportive structure on the path to full-time employment. The sponsoring body and wider community benefits from the work done by the Tús worker and by their contribution to the service provided by the body.

A very good example of this can be seen in the work done in the Queen of the Universe National School, Bagenalstown. As part of the Tidy Towns assessment of the town, it was felt that the area in which the school was located needed to be “softened”  through the addition of flowers and trees. The school was identified as an ideal way to do this, thus benefiting both the school and the wider community.

As the photographs show, the outside area has been transformed through the skills of the Tús workers, under the guidance and support of their Supervisor, Fergal. New planting areas were designed and laid down, raised beds installed, vegetables planted and even an insect hotel was built. The area was transformed into a much brighter and creative space, providing valuable ecological learning opportunities as befits a school setting. A huge congratulations to all involved.

If you wish to find out more about Tús or see how you can become a Tús participant, check out the “Programmes” part of the website.