The Columban Way, a pilgrim route that follows the footsteps of Columbanus through eight European countries, has received £5,000 from the David Cross Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, towards developing the route from Dundrum to Comber.
Alderman Deborah Girvan, Chairwoman of Friends of Columbanus Bangor explained, “The final stage of the Columban Way was launched by Ards and North Down Council on 23 October 2021 from Comber to Bangor via Newtownards, Clandeboye Estate and Helen’s Bay. To realise this ambitious project, members of Friends of Columbanus Bangor have been exploring possible walking routes that are safe and traffic free, which will join up the route from Dundrum to Comber. We approached the David Cross Foundation for a grant to enable us to map the route, identify pinch points and barriers, and produce a financial analysis as to how much it would cost to develop this part of the route. Once the feasibility study is completed, we will present the findings to local Councils to encourage them to develop the Columban Way in their respective areas. We are delighted and extremely grateful to the David Cross Foundation for their generosity in helping us to achieve our objectives.”
According to Newry Mourne and Down Councillor Cadogan Enright, the Columban Way has potential to be developed along the old railway line from Dundrum to Downpatrick and then follow the original path of the Ulster Way along the Quoile River, which was developed by Wilfrid Capper in the late 1970s. He said, “I have been working on opening up walking routes in the Lecale district for years. I am very excited about the possibility of a scenic, walking route that will be linked to the European Columban Way. By working in partnership with the two Councils, we have an opportunity to develop a sustainable, international walking route, which has the potential to attract visitors, both from home and abroad, to explore our outstanding countryside and learn about our incredible Christian Heritage. Developing a trail of this scale will also encourage walkers to visit existing tourist attractions such as the Livingston Centre at Killinchy Parish Church and stop off on the way in restaurants and stay in local accommodation which in turn will bring much needed income and business to the local economy.”
Dr Terry Cross, owner of the Hinch Distillery who set up the David Cross Foundation in memory of his son, said, “I was very impressed with the application for funding from Friends of Columbanus Bangor. This project has the ability to bring people from all walks of life to meet and greet one another, regardless of their community background. Building relationships, peace and reconciliation across Europe is now more important than ever given the critical situation that has erupted in Ukraine. I wish them every success with their proposal to develop a walking route, which will bring much pleasure to local and international visitors.”