Canons’ Island in the Shannon estuary is part of the parish of Kildysart. It is the largest in a cluster of over twenty islands that occupy the expansive stretch of water formed by the confluence of the Shannon and Fergus estuaries.
The island is the site of a medieval Monastery and a traditional pilgrim site for people on both sides of the estuary. The Canons Regular of St Augustine who lived in the Abbey provided pastoral care for the nearby parishes until its suppression during the rule of Henry VIII. An article, by Michael Mac Mahon, detailing the history of the Abbey may be found on the website of Clare Library.
The island has continued to serve as a place of burial up to the present. In 1990 the late Fr Michael Hillery, PP revived the tradition of going on pilgrimage to the Canons’ Island A large number of pilgrims travel to the island now for the annual Mass.
On Sunday 2 September the newly appointed Parish Priest of Kildysart Fr Albert McDonnell who only took up duty at the weekend led this year’s pilgrimage. Pilgrims gathered in Kildysart, Bunratty, Foynes and Askeaton and travelled by boat to the Island. Bunratty search and Rescue provided assistance to the pilgrims and patrolled the waters. Some travelled by currach, others on the rescue boat and the majority by boat.