On March 31st 2014 the inaugural Pilgrim Paths Day was launched by legendary sports commentator, Micheál O’Muircheartaigh, in the auspicious surroundings of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.
Thousands expected to retrace their ancestral heritage to mark the inaugural National Pilgrim Paths Day
Saturday 19th April – National Pilgrim Paths Day
Monday 31st March 2014: On Saturday 19th April thousands are expected to retrace their ancestral heritage as they take to Ireland’s ancient pilgrim paths to celebrate the inaugural National Pilgrim Paths Day. Supported by the Heritage Council, this new Easter Festival which was launched today by broadcaster Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, will see a nationwide series of walking and cycling events take place on Ireland’s medieval penitential trails.
In recent times, the popularity of the Camino de Santiago has led to a renewed interest in pilgrim walks in Ireland. On Saturday 19th April events will take place at each of Ireland’s 10 Pilgrim Paths including Glen Colm Cille and Lough Derg Pilgrim Path in Co Donegal’s, Slí Mor in Co Offaly, Tochar Phadraig in Co Mayo, St Kevin’s Way in Co Wicklow, Kilcommon Pilgrim Loop in Co Tipperary, Rath/Dysert Pilgrim Path in Co. Clare, Cosán na Naomh Pilgrim Path in Co. Kerry, St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Path in Co. Cork and St Declan’s Way in Co. Waterford. Heritage guides from local communities will lead each event, outlining the story of the route and explaining how medieval penitents coped with their arduous and very often dangerous journeys.
Speaking at the launch of the festival Chairman of National Pilgrim Paths, John O’Dwyer said; “National Pilgrim Paths Day was created to raise greater awareness and use of Ireland’s historic pilgrim routes. The event is targeted, not only at those who enjoy exploring Ireland’s ancient tracks, but also the growing number of people seeking to get escape from the daily grind of life and take some time out to reflect and enjoy the outdoors.”
The medieval pilgrimage was originally a journey that combined prayer, sacrifice and devotion – with an element of physical discomfort – by which the pilgrim could become closer to God. Over the last number of years, National Pilgrim Paths has worked to develop these routes for the enjoyment of modern walkers and pilgrims alike.
Heritage Council Chief Executive, Michael Starrett commented “the Heritage Council is delighted to see local groups engage so strongly with Ireland’s pilgrim paths. The Pilgrim Paths Project was originally set up by the Council in 1997 and involved seven routes across Ireland. 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. It is heartening to see, 15 years later, this investment bearing fruit and the impact local engagement is having on the success of the programme.”
Below you will find some video footage of the launch day presentation:
John O’Dwyer, Chairman of Pilgrim Paths, gives his introduction.
Michael Starrett, CEO of the Heritage Council of Ireland.
Dr. Peter Harbison, Archeologist & Historian
Micheál O’Muircheartaigh Launches Pilgrim Paths Day 2014