by Annie Hogg
Drawing on the employment of nature and the elements to assist with grief and bereavement, people were invited to create prayer rafts lit with candles to carry messages of loss and prayer.
Visual artist Annie Hogg hosted a public workshop and memorial event at Lough Gur in Co Limerick on Sunday 1st May 2022. The date was deliberately chosen to coincide with the ancient Irish festival of Bealtaine and the symbolic use of fire.
Annie came up with the idea because she feels crossing a river or transformation by fire is a resonant metaphor for the unknown journey of the soul. But more than this, she believes strongly in the importance of ritual and the impact of its loss during the pandemic.
As Annie told us:
“Events like this should be available to us all in a myriad of ways to sit with, celebrate, and process etc. In the past, I have found reasonable solace in the very important act of community grieving (wake / funeral).”
Participants gathered at the nearby Honey Fitz Theatre where they created small floating prayer rafts guided by Annie. Private thoughts, prayers, and messages to loved ones were then penned onto the rafts’ skins.
Just as the sun was setting, the rafts were released as a flotilla on the waters of Lough Gur. Although small in scale, everyone agreed they should do it again next year. Or as one participant said: “But this time, go bigger.”
About Lough Gur
Lough Gur is a lake in Co Limerick, between the towns of Herbertstown and Bruff. The lake forms a horseshoe shape at the base of Knockadoon Hill. It is one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites with a wealth of history and folklore dating back to the Stone Age. For more information, visit: Lough Gur Heriage Centre.