Experiencing maritime pilgrimage to St Mac Dara Island in Ireland: Pilgrims, hookers, and a local saint

  • Mario Katić University of Zadar
  • Michael McDonald Florida Gulf Coast University
Keywords: maritime pilgrimage, pilgrimage experience, embodied experience, St Mac Dara Island seascape


With a focus on maritime pilgrimage to St Mac Dara island in Ireland, the authors discuss and examine how participation in maritime pilgrimages affects the participants and produces a unique pilgrimage experience. By using this research, the authors define the main characteristic of maritime pilgrimages and establish a point of reference for future maritime pilgrimage research, building their interpretation on ethnographic material. They argue that maritime pilgrimages produce a unique embodied experience because of the power of the seascape, which frames and shapes the experience of the pilgrims on maritime pilgrimage but also the embodied experience of the researchers. Although the reasons for going on maritime pilgrimage may change over time, and the role of the pilgrimage practice is different for the local community, the embodied experience of the pilgrims is still shaped by the seascape, becoming the most attractive and stable part of this pilgrimage.