The trails follow the once well-trodden paths used by pilgrims before the Reformation and will be resurrected for the first time during a spiritual festival which will be held next year on Holy Saturday, Apr 19.
The festival arose after a new organisation called Pilgrim Paths Ireland was formed representing the community groups associated with each of Ireland’s ancient “Pilgrim Paths”.
John G O’Dwyer, chairman of Pilgrim Paths Ireland, said that in total about 20 such walks would be developed around the country.
“In Cork we will be having a specially-themed walk from Kealkill, near Bantry, to Gougane Barra. It will be called the St Finbarr’s Pilgrims’ Way. Such walks follow paths taken by pilgrims before the Reformation, which was the great age for pilgrim travel,” he said.
Mr O’Dwyer has extensively researched such routes and has written a comprehensive book on them.
“St Declan’s Way runs from Cashel to Ardmore. We will have two walks on that day, one from Lismore and one from the Tipperary side which will converge on Mount Melleray. The Clare Pilgrim Trail will be around Kilfenora where, like the other venues, people will visit holy wells, ancient churches and standing stones. The Tipperary Pilgrim Path will go from the west of the Slieve Felim Mountain into Kilcommon,” Mr O’Dwyer said.
His organisation believes the event will raise awareness of Ireland’s network of pilgrim paths by providing a general understanding of our medieval heritage and ultimately developing a new revenue stream for the rural communities involved.