The practice of making pilgrimage arises from the deepest level of human religious experience and the image of the pilgrim resonates far beyond that. Across boundaries of faith and culture, through the changes of history and in vastly different places, the pilgrim ideal has proved paradoxically both flexible and constant. In the Irish context, one remarkable witness to the sustained vitality of the practice of pilgrimage is to be found at Lough Derg in south Donegal. Documented since the eleventh century, and famous right across Europe in medieval times as St Patricks Purgatory, the pilgrimage finds its roots in the monastic tradition of the Celtic church, in which the penitential element was a notable feature, in combination with simple repeated prayer forms.
As the twenty-first century begins, Station Island in Lough Derg continues to draw over 20,000 pilgrims each summer from Ireland and beyond. To the contemporary pilgrim, the barefooted rounding prayer-pattern of the traditional three-day pilgrimage, which runs from June to mid-August, seems to offer an experience of re-orientation towards the things of the spirit. One rediscovers the taste of a more human pace of living and what it feels like to attend to the inner journey, to take time out for body and soul. In May and September the option of making a one-day retreat offers an alternative approach to the same end.
Since the 1980s, Lough Derg has been gaining a reputation for worthy liturgical celebration in a style that is simple, dignified, unhurried and deeply participative. In recent pilgrimage seasons, Liam Lawtons music has become a valued strand in this texture of worship. It seemed entirely natural that Liam should be commissioned to provide a new mass-setting for use in the evening Eucharist. His Lough Derg Mass was first sung at the opening of the traditional three-day pilgrimage season on 31 May 2002. It is our hope that many congregations will take it to their hearts and that, in Ireland and beyond, it may give good service to the pilgrim people of God.
- Mgr Richard Mohan Prior
For the past number of years Liam Lawton has been writing, composing and performing his unique style of inspirational music. In March 2004 Liam's talents were recognized by recording giant EMI who signed him for a number of albums. His EMI debut Another World was released in Ireland later that year featuring guest artists as Brian Kennedy, The Celtic Tenors, Fionnuala Sherry of Secret Garden, Moya Brennan, Eimear Quinn, Roisin O'Reilly amongst others. This album achieved double platinum status and was followed by his second album Time which also was hugely successful. Time was recorded with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in the beautiful city of Prague with arrangements by well known Chicago Symphony arranger Gary Fry. Liam's third album Christmas Song includes a collection of Liam's own favourite Christmas pieces with some new original music also.
Liam Lawton's music has been recognized for its unique quality. His poetic lyrics are inspired by many sources including the ancient texts of Celtic Ireland, he is also at home writing contemporary music. Much of Liam's inspiration is drawn from the landscape of Ireland with its own dark and rich history. His melodies are full of pathos and can stir the heart and his music has been used in many an auspicious occasions for example the memorial services of 9/11 to concerts in such places as the Vatican, The White House and The Chicago Symphony Hall to the weddings of pop stars and glitterati. Liam's choral music is used by choirs all over the English speaking world and has been translated into Spanish, German and Swedish.