Tóchar Pádraig, County Mayo (XirCammini, Irish Caminos, Aug & Sept 2019)

XirCammini walked the Irish Caminos in August 2019 consisting of (a.) St. Kevin’s in County Wicklow, (b.) St. Finbarr’s in County Cork, (c.) Cnoc na dTobar in County Kerry, (d.) Cosán na Naomh in the Dingle Peninsula and (e.) Tóchar Pádraig in County Mayo.

Any one interested to learn more about our treks please drop us an email on information@XirCammini.org | or join our community on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/groups/345359409704852/ | or follow us on our Facebook Page ‘XirCammini’: https://www.facebook.com/XirCammini/?view_public_for=2202460050021157

This is the fifth piece of a five-part series on the Celtic Saints commemorated on the Irish Caminos.

It has been a few weeks since we returned home from Ireland but I still catch myself repeating the words of Fr. Frank Fahey, “Light a candle before you go, include strangers in your group and no complaining.”

To these basic principles we also included “travel light” and “help fellow pilgrims” as 61 Maltese walked the Irish Caminos in August and September, ending with the St. Patrick’s Path from Ballintubber to Croagh Patrick.

The Tóchar Pádraig commences from Ballintubber Abbey, following an ancient road from this seat of the Kings of Connaught and ends in Croagh Padraig in County Mayo. The walk is graded as ‘moderate’ but one is to expect wet underfoot conditions in places in what is arguably a relatively exacting environment.   Raingear, trekking boots and warm clothing is generally required. In August County Mayo experiences temperature highs of 16ºC with a 35% to 40% chance of rain. 

In pre-Christian times a pagan pilgrimage route preceded Tóchar Pádraig on what used to be a Chariot road.

The route offers historical and natural perspectives with the Abbey, Creevagh Well, Clareen River, Patrick’s Chair, the Aghagower, St.Patrick’s Well, Peter’s Stone, Loch na Corra and more.

Part Five: St. Patrick, Ballintubber and Croagh Padraig [County Mayo]

The name Ballintubber or Ballintober is derived from Baile Tobair Phádraig , meaning the place of St. Patrick’s well. Creevagh well is situated relatively close to the Augustinian Abbey and is said to be where St. Patrick baptized people in their hundreds after he founded his church. Although the walk is typically from Ballintubber Abbey to Croagh Padraig, legend has it that St. Patrick fasted for 40 days on Croagh Padraig and then travelled to where the abbey is today to found his church.

Although St. Patrick founded his church in the mid-5th century AD (i.e. around 150 years before St. Augustine brought Roman Catholicism to the British Isles and founded his church in Canterbury), the current Abbey was founded as an Augustinian Abbey by the King of Connacht in 1216 and has had an 800-year old history through Henry VIII, penal laws, Cromwellian persecution, priest hunters, confiscation of land and revival some 20 years ago.

XirCammini Treks

This trek was truly invigorating physically as well as spiritually. Furthermore, there is nothing that beats exercise in fresh air in the company of friends for our well-being. We started from Ballintubber Abbey undertaking a linear, mostly easy to moderate trail with slight inclines and declines mainly through wet land until reaching Ahagower. From there onwards to Croagh Pádraig we went through fields, road and a Bronze Age site where – later – St. Patrick is said to have preached. Adding the walk from and to town to the hill the overall length would be of around 35 km.

While this year’s XirCammini Irish Caminos are fully subscribed, we look forward to hearing from you if you are interested in joining either XirCammini as a member, another one of our treks this year or the Irish Caminos in 2020. Anyone wishing to join us from overseas, arrangements can be made for us to meet at destination prior to commencing a trek.

XirCammini is a NGO registered as Members’ Association with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations, Malta (VO No: 1646). Contact details:

information@XirCammini.org | www.XirCammini.org | https://www.facebook.com/groups/345359409704852/

Cnoc na dTobar, County Kerry (XirCammini, Irish Caminos, Aug 2019)

XirCammini will be walking the Irish Caminos in August 2019 consisting of (a.) St. Kevin’s in County Wicklow, (b.) St. Finbarr’s in County Cork, (c.) Cnoc na dTobar in County Kerry, (d.) Cosán na Naomh in the Dingle Peninsula and (e.) Tochar Padraig in County Mayo.

Any one interested to learn more about our treks please drop us an email on information@XirCammini.org or follow us on our Facebook Page.

This is the third piece of a five part series on the Celtic Saints commemorated on the Irish Caminos.

Cnoc na dTobar, approximately 4 km outside the town of Cahersiveen literally means ‘Hills of Wells’. The west of Ireland is renowned for its ‘sacred wells’ even from ancient, pre-Christian times.

Together with Mount Brandon (at the end of the Cosan Noamh trail) and Skellig Michael (the island monastery), Cnoc na dTobar is regarded as, arguably, having one of the three most well-known ‘sacred wells’ in County Kerry.

The Cnoc na dTobar trail represents a relatively short but steep climb, from sea level to 690m in a few kilometres. Because of this it commands very scenic panoramas of County Kerry above Dingle Bay from its summit, known as Canon’s Cross. The trail is deemed to have been a pagan pilgrimage known as Lughnasad (or Lunasa) commemorating the summer harvest festival. The old pagan story of Lughnasad centres around the sun god Lugh defeating the dark god Crom Dubh. Over the years, these festivities morphed into summer harvest festivals. In Cnoc na dTobar it become a Christian trail when in the 19thcentury stations of the cross were erected on the hill. The area is also linked to St. Fursey, an aesthetic, miracle-worker, visionary, missionary and hermit associated with the west of Ireland, with East Anglia and with France.

Part Three: St. Fursey, Preacher & Healer [County Kerry]

St. Fursey (or Furseus) lived in the late 6th and early 7th century AD. Born to a noble family in Connaught, he was baptized by Saint Brandon and was educated by St. Brandon’s monks. He also embraced monastic life and later became known as the ‘wandering preacher for Christ’. His life is chronicled by the Venerable Bede in his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum written in 731 AD. (a relatively comprehensive history of Christianity in England from the Roman Conquest to the Council of Whitby).

St. Fursey lived the frugal life of a hermit and monastic. After founding the monastery at Rathmat in Lough Corrib, he travelled to East Anglia and later to the Frankish kingdoms to preach Christianity. He passed away at Mézerolles in France and was buried in Péronne.

St. Fursey’s Well, on the Cnoc na dTobar is reputed to be the well where St. Fursey washed his eyes and was cured from looming blindness. The Cnoc na dTobar trail takes us past St. Fursey’s Well.

XirCammini Treks

This trek promises to be invigorating physically as well as spiritually (for those who want it to be so). Furthermore, there is nothing that beats exercise in fresh air in the company of friends for our well-being. One starts at the town of Cahersiveen and loops back to the town. Adding the walk from and to town to the hill the overall length would be of around 15 km.

While this year’s XirCammini Irish Caminos are fully subscribed, we look forward to hearing from you if you are interested in joining either XirCammini as a member, another one of our treks this year or the Irish Caminos in 2020. Our walks are not limited to existing XirCammini members or, indeed, to people travelling from Malta. For anyone wishing to join us from overseas, arrangements can be made for us to meet us at destination prior to commencing a trek. But prior notice would be required so that we can organize any local transport to / from start / end of a trek, accommodation as well as daily baggage transfers where applicable.

XirCammini is registered as an Association with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations, Malta (VO No: 1646). Contact details:

information@XirCammini.org

St. Kevin’s Way, Irish Caminos (XirCammini, Aug 2019)

XirCammini will be walking the Irish Caminos in August 2019 consisting of (a.) St. Kevin’s in County Wicklow, (b.) St. Finbarr’s in County Cork, (c.) Cnoc na dTobar in County Kerry, (d.) Cosán na Naomh in the Dingle Peninsula and (e.) Tochar Padraig in County Mayo.

Any one interested to learn more about our treks please drop us an email on information@XirCammini.org or follow us on our Facebook Page ‘XirCammini’: https://www.facebook.com/XirCammini/?view_public_for=2202460050021157

Glendalough Monastic Site, Wicklow, Ireland

https://www.facebook.com/XirCammini/videos/286546992258480/

This is the first piece of a five part series on the Celtic Saints commemorated on the Irish Caminos.

Part One: St. Kevin’s Path (Wicklow Way | Glendalough)

Kevin, or Coemgen (in Celtic) means of Noble Birth. Kevin was, in fact, of noble birth from County Lienster; born in the late 5th century A.D (i.e. almost 1 century before the return of Roman Catholicism to the British Isles by St. Augustine who landed in Thanet, Kent in 597 AD).

Little is known about St. Kevin other than in late medieval records preserved by the Franciscans in Dublin. It is believed (from 17th century tradition) that he was a pupil of St. Petroc of Cornwall. There is significant evidence of aesthetic spirituality and evangelistic activity between the British Isles that pre-dates the return of Roman Christianity. Celtic Christianity flourished through the efforts of mainly Irish, Welsh and Scottish evangelists. Roman Christianity returned to Great Britain (and later to Ireland) with St. Augustine in 597 AD. Before this time, St. Petroc himself was born in Wales but studied in Ireland before going on a pilgrimage to Rome and returning to Cornwall where he founded his monastery. St. Kevin studied under St. Petroc when the latter was in Ireland.

Following his ordination by Bishop Lughaidh (Lugitus), he moved to Glendalough where he established his hermitage.

Glendalough (literally, the valley of two lakes) was at the time a very remote place and ideal as a place of seclusion and contemplation. He initially lived in, what is believed to be, a Bronze Age tomb; now known as St. Kevin’s Bed overlooking the upper lake. St. Kevin lived there for several years in quiet contemplation, bare-foot, wearing animal hide and surrounded by nature. Not unlike John the Baptist, disciples started flocking to him. By 540 AD Glendalough attracted more and more followers who came to listen to St. Kevin’s teachings. A monastery was founded and this became a seminary, the mother of other monasteries in Ireland and a place of pilgrimage. St. Kevin died in the early 7th century AD and is one of the Patron Saints of Dublin.

Glendalough, the land of 2 lakes, Wicklow, Ireland

XirCammini Treks

This trek promises to be invigorating physically as well as spiritually (for those who want it to be so). Furthermore, there is nothing that beats exercise in fresh air in the company of friends for our well-being. One starts St. Kevin’s Way from either the village of Hollywood or from Valleymount and is around 30 km long.

While this year’s XirCammini Irish Caminos are fully subscribed, we look forward to hearing from you if you are interested in joining either XirCammini as a member, another one of our other treks this year or the Irish Caminos in 2020. Our walks are not limited to existing XirCammini members or, indeed, to people travelling from Malta. For anyone wishing to join us from overseas, arrangements can be made for us to meet us at destination prior to commencing a trek. But prior notice would be required so that we can organize any local transport to / from start / end of a trek, accommodation as well as daily baggage transfers where applicable.

XirCammini is registered as an Association with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations, Malta (VO No: 1646). Contact details:

information@XirCammini.org