Bray Head Holy Year Cross

2 Oct

Morgan Ilaw

Last weekend, some friends and I took a day trip to Bray just south of Dublin. After visiting Howth a few weeks prior, we were yearning for another cliff walk around the water. There are two walks in Bray; one that extends from Bray to the town of Greystones and another one to the top of Bray Head. We chose to climb to the top of Bray Head for the beautiful panoramic views of the Wicklow Mountains and Irish Sea. We were also presented with a view of a large concrete cross when we reached the top. Curious as to what the Cross signified, I did some research when I returned to UCD. Though not much, I figured I would try to recount as much as I did manage to learn while reading.

During the Holy Year in 1950, the Bray Head Cross was constructed in celebration of a year where sins are forgiven and the universe is pardon. The Holy Year is said to occur every 50 years to remind all to serve God with joy and peace, hope, justice and commitment. The Jubilee tradition has been said to stem from Pop Boniface VIII in 1300. The Cross on top of Bray Head was placed there in honor of the 1950 Jubilee.  To this day, hundreds of locals climb to the top every Good Friday in a procession to mark the Stations of the Cross, which are a series of 15 events that follow the death of Christ, or Jesus. Throughout the climb up to Bray Head, they narrate the stations, with the final station told at the holy year cross.

Hundreds of hill walkers climb on top of Bray Head without understanding the forgiveness of sins, hope and peace the cross represents as well as the Good Friday tradition that is centered on it. I now wonder about all the subtle religious figures and customs Ireland encompasses.

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