Start of the Columban Way launched in Co Carlow

The first stage of the Columban Way in Ireland was recently launched in Myshall, Co Carlow. The Columban Way is an ambitious European pilgrim route that traces the footsteps of Columbanus from Mount Leinster, where he was born in 541, through eight European countries to Bobbio, Italy, where he died in 615. Modelled on the Camino, the Francigena and other great European cultural routes, the 6,000km route features historical sites and landscapes of early Christian Ireland.

Walkers stretch out on the downhill route

Alderman Deborah Girvan, Chairperson of Friends of Columbanus Bangor, said,

“This is a significant milestone in the development of the Columban Way. On 23 October 2021, Ards and North Down Council launched the last stage of the pilgrim route from Comber to Bangor. Now that the beginning and the end of the walking route have been mapped out, signposted and operational, all we have to do is join up the bits in between.”

The cross border route links three areas with strong associations to St Columbanus in Ireland, from his birthplace at Mount Leinster in Co Carlow, his place of study at Cleenish Island in Co Fermanagh to the monastery he joined in Bangor, Co Down. Once fully developed, the Columban Way will cover 530km across counties Carlow, Wexford, Kildare, Laois, Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Armagh, and Down.

Charlie Reid, a member of Friends of Columbanus Bangor, represented the association at the launch and delivered a short speech to congratulate Carlow Tourism and Friends of Columbanus RoI on their achievement.

“I have no doubt that the Columban Way will attract walkers and tourists to both areas and hopefully it won’t be too long before the other Council areas the route passes through will follow suit.”

The inaugural walk was blessed with clear skies and distant views

The route was extremely well waymarked with a combination of brown tourist finger posts, granite stone pillars and recycled resin waymark posts. The first section runs six miles along quiet public roads to the attractive village of Myshall, which is also rich in Columban connections and ecclesiastical history.

Alderman Deborah Girvan