Join pilgrims on a summer walking tour on Ireland’s St. Finbarr’s Way in beautiful West Cork
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. 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.
Saturday – 12th August 2017
● (9am): Depart from the Top of the Rock, heading for Castledonovan, Mullaghmesha and the Mealagh Valley. (See map https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z_jl1YteN8cU.krcwY-WGSh2Q )
● (2pm): Lunch will be served by the Mealagh Valley community group in their new community hall.
● (5pm) Arrival in Kealkill, having completed the first 12.5 miles of the walk.
● At this point those staying in Gougane Barra will be taken by bus to the Gougane Barra Hotel for dinner. Those staying in Drimoleague will have a bus transfer to Drimoleague via Bantry where walkers will have one and a half hours to go to the restaurant of their choice. This group will then return to the Pod Páirc by bus.
Sunday – 13th August 2017
● Bus transfers from Gougane and Drimoleague will enable a 10am start from Carriganass Castle in Kealkill for the 9.5 mile walk over the mountain to Gougane Barra.
● We will have a sandwich lunch at a stop near Lackavaun before the steep ascent. A bus will be available for those who wish to take a less strenuous route to walk into Gougane by road.
● Pilgrims will arrive in Gougane at approx. 4pm with a short time of reflection and prayer. The Gougane Barra Hotel will host tea and sandwiches for the walkers.
Walking Tour Price
The cost of our 2017 two-day pilgrim walking break is €130 per person sharing.
Two nights’ Bed and Breakfast accommodation at Top of the Rock in a standard or family sized pod. We also have two luxury pods (extra supplement €20 pps).
Light Supper on arrival at 8pm on Saturday evening.
Transport to and from all walks.
Elizabeth, David or another guide will accompany you on all walks.
A Guidebook and our specially crafted St Finbarr’s Walking staff are yours to keep.