By Sean Ryan - 20 March, 2016
Thousands of people from all over Ireland will take part in this year’s Pilgrim Paths Festival which commences next week and will be a week-long event for the first time.
Easter Saturday 2014 was designated as the very first National Pilgrim Paths Day.
The event proved a huge success with almost 1,800 participants taking part at 11 pilgrim path locations across Ireland.
Following on this success, the second annual National Pilgrim Paths Day took place on Easter Saturday, 4 April 2015, with a nationwide series of walks planned along the country’s major medieval penitential walkways.
Now in 2016, the Pilgrim Paths Festival has been extended to a week-long celebration running from Tuesday 22 March to Tuesday 29 March.
Speaking on local radio, Pilgrim Paths Ireland chairman and author of ‘Pilgrim Paths in Ireland’, John G O’Dwyer said that there has been “a remarkable renewal of interest in following in the footsteps of the past”.
“National Pilgrim Paths Week offers all comers from every religious background and none an opportunity to reconnect with Ireland’s medieval heritage,” he said.
“The event is targeted, not only at those who enjoy exploring and learning more about the history of our ancient tracks, but also the growing number of people seeking to escape the daily grind of life and take some time out for reflection while enjoying the great outdoors.”
The event is also been supported by the Heritage Council. In a statement, it said that it “is delighted to see local groups engage so strongly with Ireland’s pilgrim paths”.
The Heritage Council added, “Working with the local communities, the project aimed to raise awareness of the different aspects of heritage, built and natural, encountered along the routes, while contributing to sustainable tourism and community development in each local area.”
During Pilgrim Paths week events will take place on each of Ireland’s 13 medieval pilgrim paths.
These include Glen Colm Cille in Co Donegal, Slí Mor in Co Offaly, Tochar Phadraig in Co Mayo, St Kevin’s Way in Co Wicklow, St Bridget Pilgrim Path in Kildare, Kilcommon National Pilgrim Loop in Co Tipperary, Rath/Dysert Pilgrim Path in Co Clare, Cosán na Naomh and Cnoc na dTobar in Co Kerry, St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Path in Co Cork , St Declan’s Way in Co Waterford and the Pilgrim Path of St Brigid in Kildare.
Guides from local communities will lead each event while outlining the story of the route and pointing out places of special interest. More information can be had by visiting www.pilgrimpath.ie