Smirsh Films

Currently in advanced development of a documentary that explores how Purgatory came into existence at precisely the same time as a doorway to this Other World was popularised in rural South Donegal.
LOCH DERG-SAOL EILE is the untold story of Lough Derg in Donegal before the black bread and bare feet. From 1150 to 1500 pilgrims ventured from across Europe to the outer wastes of Donegal and claimed to enter through a special door to that place where the Dead dare go; to Purgatory. This is a detective story that explores the manuscript accounts of entry into this phantasmagorical world, how it came into being and how the Portal to Purgatory got shut by the Borgia Pope.
The Medieval Pilgrim came to Lough Derg because it was a portal into the next world, a door way into that newly Church sanctioned place called Purgatory, “that gargantuan waiting room.” We have chosen the four most adventurous Pilgrim accounts from across Europe of a knight, a Chamberlain, a Monk and a Legate who chose to be locked in a Pit that was “a cunning entrance for a Mortal to see how the Dead faired.” The souls in Purgatory had avoided Hell and awaited the end of time in various degrees of suffering. Medieval Pilgrims believed that by entering this very physical Purgatory for 24 hours in this life; they could skip at Death straight to Heaven. For some they had particular need to converse with dead kith or kin.
Loch Derg –Saol Eile explores how the ancient aspect of Lough Derg came about and why a Borgia Pope had it shut down. Along the way we see how Purgatory rose and fell, was the bugbear of the Reformation and for so many Irish people right up to now, the notion of this waiting place before heaven shapes how they imagine the afterlife.

This is the Pozzo di San Patricio ( the Well of St. Patrick in Orvieto) its name inspired by the tales from intrepid Pilgrims returning from the wet lands of Donegal to the Continent of Europe. Dante’s Purgatorio is argued to be also inspired by the details of accounts of folk who had stepped into and through the Donegal Portal to Purgatory.


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