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John G O'Dwyer

Walkers invited to journey along five ancient routes and pick up their 'Pilgrim passport'

The event takes place over Heritage Week this month.

PEOPLE ARE GEARING up for Ireland’s first fully guided pilgrim journey, which will take place during Heritage Week, from 19 – 26 August.

The week-long event sees walkers taking part in guided journeys along the country’s passported pilgrim paths.

The five ancient routes included on the Irish Pilgrim Passport are: Tochar Phadraig, Co Mayo; St Kevin’s Way, Co Wicklow; Cosán na Naomh, Co Kerry; St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Path, Co. Cork; and Cnoc na dTobar, Co Kerry.

The passport involves walkers collecting a pilgrim stamp at the end of each walk. They are then awarded the full passport when they arrive at Ballintubber Abbey, after completing Tochar Phadraig in Mayo.

The walks will each be led by knowledgeable local guides, who will outline the story of the route and explain how medieval penitents coped with their arduous journeys. Time will be allowed for personal contemplation during the walks.

Chairman of Pilgrim Paths Ireland John G O’Dwyer gave some insight into the background of these walks. He said that participants are free to complete all five paths over the week or undertake a lesser number.

“The medieval pilgrimage was originally a journey combining prayer and sacrifice – with an element of physical discomfort,” he said. “Recently, there has been a renewed interest in following the footsteps of these pilgrims past and over the last number of years Ireland’s penitential trails have echoed to ever-increasing footfall.”

For example, National Pilgrim Paths Week takes place over the Easter period every year. O’Dwyer previously told that the paths are not just for religious people.

They are from the time before the Reformation, when everybody was Christian. We are a non-denominational organisation – we make the paths available to people of any religion, anyone can take anything from it.

He said the pilgrim journey “is not just for those who enjoy exploring Ireland’s ancient tracks, but also the growing numbers seeking to escape the daily grind of life and take time out to reflect and meditate a little while enjoying the outdoors”.

Want to take part? Advance booking is essential and must be made individually to each pilgrim path. More information on how to book can be found on

Pilgrim Paths Ireland was founded in 2013 as the umbrella association for the community groups representing the 10 principal pilgrim paths in Ireland.

Read: Ireland’s pilgrim paths: ‘They’re the great leveller – you could be Bill Gates or unemployed’>

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