The most renowned pilgrimage in tradition is without question, that of Chartres. Over the years, not a few Irish have travelled to the continent to partake in this noble endeavour. But many have wondered why no such pilgrimage was ever organised in the land of Saints and Scholars. They need not wonder any longer. The pilgrimage of Chartres now seems to pale in comparison to the magnificent way of St Declan in southeastern Ireland.
Following in the footsteps of the St Declan, thirty-five pilgrims walked the traditional route the saint once took to Cashel for a meeting with St Patrick. Beginning in Ardmore, the pilgrims walked 110 kilometres over the Knockmealdown mountains and through the fields of Tipperary before arriving at Hore Abbey in Cashel. Although the way was arduous and trying at times, this was easily outwighed by the beautiful landscape and many graces obtained.
Blessed by sunshine on the first day, the pilgrims were welcomed by the hospitable Cistercian monks of Mount Melleray at the end of the day. Early the next morning after Mass and breakfast, they set out in completely different circumstances. Through the rain they made their way over the mountains and into Tipperary. That night was spent in Cahir town, and the final day the pilgrims set out for the last stretch to Cashel. Amidst song and with light hearts, the procession made its way to the ruins of the Abbey where the Mass of St Lawrence was sung.
Every pilgrim returned home weary, but spiritually refreshed and determined to follow St Declan in re-evangelising Ireland, by God working through each of them in their own lives.
St. Declan's Way 2020 will take place 6 - 8 August. More information forthcoming. All are invited to attend.