Ar An gCarraig
Top of the Rock Pod Páirc & Walking Centre, Rockmount, Drimoleague, Co. Cork
The St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Walk from Drimoleague gives you a wonderful chance to reflect on the wonder of our landscape.
Pilgrimage is, of course, one of the oldest forms of travel, and in West Cork and South Kerry the practice of walking pilgrim paths to St Finbarr’s hermitage in Gougane Barra has been in place for many centuries. One such path leads from Drimoleague, where – local tradition has it – St Finbarr arrived at the Top of the Rock in the sixth century and admonished the people to return to Christ, before making his way to Gougane Barra.
In 2008, the practice of walking this ancient route was revived since 2008 and, today, groups as large as fifty and as small as three or four are regularly found walking the 22 mile (35km) route.
The St. Finbarr’s Pilgrim Way Route
It goes “up and over” three mountain systems and four valleys, namely the Ilen, Mealagh, Ouvane and Lee valley basins. There are spectacular views over Bantry Bay and stretches of the West Cork coastline. A rich archaeological landscape is combined with interesting folklore. The characters one might meet along the way help to make this a memorable and powerful experience.
But it is the spiritual aspect that attracts many people; the questions raised as you walk: “What motivated Finbarr to bring the good news of Christ to these places? What message did he bring that eclipsed the prevailing darkness which he challenged? And why is there an unusual sense of peace and restfulness in the beautiful island where he held retreat?”
The contemplation, the seeking and the finding, the camaraderie of other “pilgrims” and the pains and aches at day’s end… All these make St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Way a special experience to be anticipated and experienced to the full.
St. Finbarr’s Pilgrim Walk Itinerary [Booking Essential]
Saturday 13th August: You can park your car for the day in at the Top of the Rock Pod Páirc and Walking Centre. At 9am we depart from the Top of the Rock, heading for Castledonovan, Mullaghmesha and the Mealagh Valley. Lunch will be served in the Mealagh Valley community hall at approx. 2.30pm. Arrival in Kealkil having completed the first 12.5 miles of the walk at approx. 5.30pm.
A bus will convey you back to Drimoleague for around 6.30pm.
Sunday 14th August: Park your car at Carriganass Castle in Kealkil for a 9am start from Carriganass Castle in Kealkil for the 9 mile walk over the mountain to Gougane Barra. There will be a Sandwich lunch at a stop near Lackavaun before the steep ascent. An alternative will be available for those who wish to take a less strenuous route to walk into Gougane by road. Arrival in Gougane at approx. 4pm with a short time of reflection.
REFLECTION: On the contemplative walk we stop about every hour or so at places where St Finbarr might have stopped, eg An tobair Ur, the Glanaclohy rock, the stone circle etc. We reflect on the life and message of St Finbarr and then resume our path.
COST: The lunch and bus costs €8 and €6 respectively each day. This year we are requesting an extra €4 each day to extend a gratuity to extra guides who will lead us. We expect between 40 and 50 walkers.
LEVEL of FITNESS: We have had people in their seventies do the pilgrim walk but they need to be extraordinarily fit. Particularly on Sunday the gradient can be steep and demanding over an extended period. The area is subject to dense fog and we have to stay together at all times. The path is well marked and discernible at all times.
To register, please email David at [email protected] or ring 086 173 5134.
Find details of places to stay and eat here at https://livingthesheepsheadway.com