A Walk for the Weekend: Pilgrim paths to higher ground

Follow in the ageless echo of medieval penitents, writes John G O’Dwyer

Celebrating Ireland’s dense network of penitential tracks, Pilgrim Paths Week is a new, non-denominational Easter festival that urges us to get into the Irish countryside and follow penitential trails trodden by our forefathers. Local guides will lead each outing, describe the story of the route and explain how medieval penitents coped with their arduous journeys. So, whatever your spiritual convictions, community groups across Ireland are inviting you to take up the pilgrim staff at any of the events listed when Ireland’s penitential paths will resonate to the ageless echo of pilgrim footfall.

St Brigid's Way, Co Meath (Friday, March 25th) 
Honour Ireland's most beloved female saint. The walk follows part of St Brigid's pilgrim journey from her birthplace in Louth to the Abbey she founded in Kildare.

St Finbarr's Pilgrim Weekend, Co Cork (March 25th-27th) 
Authentic, two-day pilgrim walk recreating St Finbarr's journey from Drimoleague to Gougane Barra. Memorable views and rich archaeology en route.

St Declan's Way, Tipperary/ Waterford (Saturday, March 26th)
An opportunity to complete a part of the ancient route used by St Declan when going from Ardmore to Cashel.

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Cosán na Naomh, Co Kerry (Saturday, March 26th)
Enjoy a Pilgrim Walk along the ancient Cosán na Naomh accompanied by an archaeologist telling the story of this pre-historic route.

Description: reasonable fitness required;
Meet: Trailhead, Ventry Beach, Dingle;
Departure: 10am;
Distance: 17km;
Information: 086 8191942.
Email: tp@iol.ie; Facebook: Cosán na Naomh/the Saints’ Path

St Kevin's Road, Co Wicklow (Saturday, March 26th)
Weave your way in the footsteps of St Kevin through the Wicklow Gap to renowned Glendalough, while connecting with awe-inspiring beauty.

Description: Moderate;
Meet: Glendalough Visitor Centre;
Departure: 10am Distance: 12km
Contribution: €5;
Information: 083-4328842 or 087- 2702099
Booking: irishmountainherbs@gmail.com

Cnoc na dTobar, Co Kerry (Saturday, March 26th)
Cnoc na dTobar has been a sacred site since prehistoric times. Walk follows upwards 14 Stations of the Cross on the mountain's ancient trail.

Meet: Old Barracks, Cahersiveen at 10.30am for carpooling;
Description: Walk to a mountain summit requiring suitable attire. Recital to start walk – musicians welcome; 
Ascent: 650m;
Contribution: €5 (includes refreshments);
Information: skelligkerry@gmail.com; Facebook: cnoc na d-tobar

Tochar Phadraig, Co Mayo (Monday, March 28th)
Opportunity to complete half the ancient druidical and pilgrim path to Croagh Patrick. On subsequent days the second part of the Tochar can be completed, if desired.