Friends of Columbanus Bangor met with Chris Hazzard MP to discuss the development of the Columban Way in County Down. The Columban Way, a European pilgrim route that traces the footsteps of Columbanus from Mount Leinster in Ireland where he was born in 543 through eight European countries to Bobbio in Italy where he died in 615, is currently being developed on the island of Ireland. After a presentation of the European Columban Way, the group presented him with a document that outlined how the pilgrim route could be developed from Newry to Bangor using established routes such as the Ulster Way and the St Patrick’s Way.
Deborah Girvan, Chairperson of the Friends of Columbanus Bangor said,
“We have been engaging with politicians from all political parties to garner their support to help develop the Columban Way in Northern Ireland. Councillor Cadogan Enright, Councillor Martin McRandal and myself had a very constructive meeting with Chris Hazzard, Sinn Fein MP for South Down, who pledged his support for this ambitious project. A small team of Friends of Columbanus volunteers have been walking, surveying and mapping routes in County Down to demonstrate that the Columban Way is a viable long distance walking route that has the potential to boost the rural economy and tourism in the areas where the route passes through.”
Mr Hazzard described connecting the Columban Way through Co Down as an ‘opportunity not to be missed.’ . He said,
“Charting the pilgrim journey of an eminent historical figure such as Columbanus is a feat in itself; however, delivering a connected trail for modern day pilgrims and tourists alike through Ireland and across Europe is an exciting, and hugely ambitious task. I want to thank Deborah Girvan, and the Friends of Columbanus for the commendable work they have done to date here in Ireland, and for reaching out to me to help deliver this project in County Down. Undoubtedly now it is time for central and local government, in partnership with the Friends of Columbanus and the local community, to make this dream a reality. Delivering an international standard heritage pilgrim route here in Co Down would be a significant boost for our local tourism and hospitality industry, and would offer world-class walking opportunities for our local community.”