Starting in Tipperary and ending in Waterford, hundreds of pilgrims have been enjoying the 100km-long St Declan’s Way over the summer.
Broken-up into five stages and starting in Cashel, 300 people have taken on the challenge each month since April. At the end of this month, pilgrims will tackle the final leg of the trek on August 31.
Mark Rylands from Knockmealdown Active, organisers of the pilgrimage, says ‘stage five’ between Aglish and Ardmore is “absolutely amazing for so many reasons”.
“It’s one of the parts that people, in living memory, would remember walking,” he said. “There’s a great buy-in from the community. Last year when we did it the weather was incredible. Local people left out tables of items, water, sweets and orange juice and things like that. There was a real sense of community and people really thought there was something special happening.”
People go on the pilgrimage for many reasons, Mr Rylands says, “at the end people come up to you and tell you: ‘I did this for my mother, or I did this for my brother who is sick’, or ‘I’m practicing for the Camino in Spain’, which is something we’re trying to promote.
“If you’re thinking of going to Spain and doing a long-distance walk, the stages will be simpler, about 20-25km, so come and do it with us before you head off to Spain and get your blisters over there.”
During the third stage pilgrims stopped-off in Mount Melleray Abbey in Lismore where some received blessings from Abbot Dom Richard Purcell. Mr Rylands described it as a “nice little touch” which added more of a “religious element” to the pilgrimage.
St Declan’s Way is fully waymarked, with 2018 being the official re-opening of the route. Those interested can learn more at a site dedicated to the pilgrim path at http://www.stdeclansway.ie/
Before this paper went to print there was less than a dozen places left. According to Mr Rylands, each stage has been fully booked.
Bookings can be made for the final stage of the walk at https://www.kmdact.com/walking-events/
St Declan’s Way 2019
First stage: April 27 – Cashel to Cahir
Second stage: May 25 – Cahir to Goatenbridge
Third stage: June 29 – Goatenbridge to Lismore
Fourth stage: July 27 – Lismore to Aglish
Fifth stage: August 31 – Aglish to Ardmore