Using the first complete year of activity since the Covid-19 epidemic, Ireland’s counterpart to the Camino de Santiago in Spain seeks to increase both the number of people who go along the historic path and its worldwide visibility.
The pilgrimage road of St Declan is considered to be one of the most ancient holy pathways in Ireland, and it recounts the legendary walk undertaken by St Declan from Ardmore in Waterford to Cashel in Tipperary in order to meet with St Patrick in the early fifth century. With its route passing through some of Ireland’s most ancient and attractive regions, the St Declan’s Way has been hailed as a worthy alternative to the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
It begins and ends with some of Ireland’s holiest locations, ranging from the cliff-top monastery erected by St Declan in Ardmore to the Rock of Cashel, which was of tremendous religious and political importance in Celtic Ireland at the time of its construction.
Also on the route is Lismore, which has a magnificent castle and historical ties to the Dukes of Devonshire.
A number of prominent people, including former President Mary McAleese, have praised the route for its beauty.
The 104-kilometer route, which passes through Cashel, Cahir, Goatenbridge, Lismore, Aglish, and Ardmore, is normally completed in five organized stages of around 20 kilometers each.
The Covid-19 epidemic prevented any organized pilgrimages from taking place in 2020; nonetheless, customized pilgrimage ‘pods’ functioned on a limited basis last year to accommodate those affected.
In the next year, it is anticipated that the traditional pilgrimage walk would witness a considerable rise in its popularity.
More than 1,500 pilgrims and walkers took part in the St Declan’s Way pilgrimage three years ago.
A series of special briefing events on the pilgrimage trail is now being organized.
Throughout the path, the St Declan’s Way Steering Committee hopes to establish relationships with landowners, tourist operators, and community organizations.
New St. Declan’s Way map booklet and pilgrim passport are being created, and internet information about the journey is being improved as part of the project.
Pilgrim Paths Ireland chairman John G O’Dwyer has previously said that it is amazing that major sections of the route have been successfully repaired via volunteer efforts on the side of the public.
A pilgrim trail in Ireland, which offers a very comparable experience to the Spanish Camino, now gives the ideal chance for personal rejuvenation as part of a one-week walking trip, according to the author.
Mr. O’Dwyer is the author of a well regarded book about Ireland’s historic pilgrimage routes, which was published in 2012.
People travel these paths for a number of reasons, he said, ranging from leisure to meditation, and from curiosity to religious dedication. He added that
“Doing the pilgrim ways is when you return back and go to the land from which we originally originated.” All of nature’s dimensions, including the magnitude of the landscape and everything else, are clearly visible. Whatever your background, it’s a fantastic equalizer because everyone goes through the same same path and has the same sentiments.”
The renovation of St Declan’s Way was made possible by a €150,000 grant from the Department of Rural Development’s special leisure fund, which was awarded six years ago.