By editor - 31 January, 2013
A new pilgrim walk or Irish ‘camino’ has been launched in Kildare as part of Feile Bride. The Brigid’s Way Celtic Pilgrimage or Slí Bhride takes nine days to complete and runs 70 miles or so between St Brigid’s Shrine in Faughart, Co Louth to St Brigid’s monastic city in Kildare town.
Dolores Whelan, one of the people who had the idea for Slí Bhride, spoke of how in Brigid’s time prayer was part of everyday life. There was a prayer for milking, for sowing, for everything they did, and prayer was synonymous with working the land. So walking and getting back to the land is the ideal way to tap into our ancient prayer traditions.
“I have led pilgrimages to many of the sacred places over the last 20 years. I have always believed that when I walk on the land, and really connect with the land and feel that energy rising me, I am praying. I feel that the way back to our ancient tradition is through walking and praying in that way,” she said.
She and two others, Karen Ward and Anthony Murphy, are finalising the route which will be inaugurated on 7th July when the first pilgrims will set off from Faughart. Anthony Murphy, who has written several books including Island of the Setting Sun – In Search of Ireland’s Ancient Astronomers and a new book Newgrange Monument to Immortality, did initial research and found that there is a straight line between Faughart Graveyard, Tara and the Curragh, and it intersects many significant historic and holy sites in between.
“We are very excited that on the 7th of July 2013 we will begin to re-inaugurate this path,” Dolores Whelan said explaining she always had an aspiration to open the ‘pilgrim paths’ in Ireland. She is also involved in the Brigid of Faughart Festival which includes the annual Pilgrimage Walk from Dundalk Town to Faughart Shrine, the Eucharist for St. Brigid’s Day at Faughart Shrine and a special day of healing.
Dolores Whelan runs Iomlanu Education near Dundalk, and has written Ever Ancient, Ever New with Celtic meditation CD. She did further research on the Sli Bhride with Karen Ward who was the Holistic Therapist presenter on RTE’s Health Squad and runs The Slí an Chroí Centre in Dublin with her husband.
At the launch Karen spoke about how the Camino de Santiago de Compostela has been popularised with the film starring Martin Sheen. Of late many people have taken up walking in Ireland, but this is not only because it is a cheap pastime during the recession but it goes back to our ancient traditions of pilgrimage in times of difficulty and need.
She and Dolores have travelled the route and uncovered a variety of ancient holy wells, monasteries and shrines to visit. It runs through or near Faughart graveyard and Brigid’s holy well there , Drumcashel, Ardee, Slane, Tara, Dunboyne and along the canal with stops at Maynooth and Prosperous before arriving at Kildare and Brigid’s monastic city. There are points to stop reflect and pray, but for many each step of a pilgrimage is a prayer.
By Ann Marie Foley