RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Waterford

St Declan’s Way – Ireland’s new ‘Camino’ in the Irish Times

Posted on

This article is a thought-piece on the ‘new’ St Declan’s Way pilgrim’s highway that I’m PRO on the Waterford side and the subject of my postgraduate certificate from Trinity St David, Bangor, Wales. Delighted to be part of it and this Friday (26th) I get to cook for all near the top of the mountain! while dressed as a monk!

Irish Times article; http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/the-irish-camino-walking-in-the-footsteps-of-the-saints-1.1468942

The Irish Camino: walking in the footsteps of the saints

Local communities throughout the country are developing old pilgrim trails

John G O’Dwyer  Sat, Jul 20, 2013,    

Imagine celebrating our national feast day, not in March, but in high summer. Hard to visualise the occasion with bikinis, barbecues and beach badminton isn’t it? Yet it could have happened, because July 24th is the day of commemoration of an early Irish saint whose credentials are comparable to those of St Patrick.Regarded by many historians as having pre-dated Patrick as an Irish Christian missionary, St Declan of Ardmore is, nevertheless, virtually unknown outside his native area. The murky world of medieval church politics has much to answer for here. It allowed the deeply venerated saint of the southern Déise region to fade from the public consciousness when the northern church rose to prominence. History was then adroitly rewritten to suit the needs of the time, with Patrick, the first Bishop of Armagh, promulgated above Declan as the initial and single-handed evangeliser of the Irish people.Now Waterford’s patron saint is to reclaim his inheritance. An ancient pilgrim trail that he footed regularly is set to be traversed again as a richly symbolic journey. Meandering 94km through extravagantly varied terrain in Cos Tipperary and Waterford, the newly revitalised St Declan’s Pilgrim Path commemorates the saint’s many excursions from his monastery at Ardmore to the royal seat at Cashel.Overgrown and virtually forgotten for decades, the trail is, mainly through the efforts of a Tipperary man, being returned to public consciousness. Dense briars and rhododendrons have been diligently cut back in preparation for the first full-length public walk of the route, which takes place from July 24th to 28th.And so on a bright, blue-sky, July morning, I find myself rambling rustic lanes by the River Tar and traversing timeless monastic ruins at a point where the handsome Knockmealdown Mountains erupt spectacularly from the fertile plains of Tipperary. With me are Kevin O’Donnell, the instigator of the pilgrim path project, and some members of Knockmealdown Active, the volunteer group that is staging the inaugural St Declan’s walk.

An ‘Irish Camino’
O’Donnell, the group’s chairman, comes across as a quietly passionate believer in the venture. He conceived the idea for revitalising St Declan’s Pilgrim Path when he walked the Camino de Santiago, in Spain, some years ago. Now he wants to dub St Declan’s Path an “Irish Camino” and immediately points to the strong penitential credentials of the trail from Cashel to Ardmore.

“It takes five days to complete and goes up to more than 500 metres when crossing the Knockmealdown Mountains by the prehistoric Bottleneck Pass route,” says O’Donnell. “This needn’t put people off, though; the first two days from Cashel and the last days to the coast are on easy terrain. Walkers without the fitness or time to do the full journey will have the option to join for stages of the route.”

As we dally by the riverbank to absorb the serenity, Conor Ryan, who works as an animator with Knockmealdown Active, suggests that with the number of pilgrims completing the Camino rising to more a quarter of a million in recent years, the time is now opportune to revitalise the path .

But can South Tipperary and Waterford really capture a slice of the rapidly growing and lucrative reverential trails market? Ryan believes so.

“This month’s inaugural walk is part of a strategy to turn St Declan’s Path into a fully functioning Irish pilgrim route,” says Ryan.

He believes the trail will, in future, “appeal strongly to walking enthusiasts because of its length and variety. I also expect it to attract visitors who have family ties linking them to the towns and villages along the route,” he says.

But how is it all going to work for the reopening walk? “Accommodation or car parking will be at each day’s destination, with participants bussed from there to the walk start point each morning, from where they will walk the pilgrim route to their cars or their accommodation,” says O’Donnell. “The participation fee is €70 for five days, or €20 per day. Full details are at knockmealdownactive.com.”
St Finbarr’s trail
In a similar vein, two communities in Co Cork have expended monumental effort on developing a pilgrim trail along the way St Finbarr reputedly journeyed on his way to found a monastery at Gougane Barra. Since then, a tradition of walking the 30km path, particularly on St Finbarr’s Day, September 25th, has developed. The route has been fully waymarked as a year-round pilgrim path and is being promoted as the “Cork Camino experience,” says David Ross, spokesman for the Drimoleague/Keakill St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Path Committee.

“Besides the obvious tourism benefit,” says Ross, “communities along the route are happy to discover and share the rich Christian heritage, which for centuries prompted their forbears to walk St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Way in search of solace, meaning and spiritual fulfilment.”
Clare and south Galway
Another route with spiritual resonance on an epic scale is the newly inaugurated Clare Pilgrim Way. Ireland’s longest redemptive trail circuits Cos Clare and south Galway in five stages, linking all the main spiritual and ecclesiastical sites in the area.

According to Pius Murray, a member of the community-based group behind the venture, “The Clare Pilgrim Trail is aimed at facilitating users to reconnect with nature and through this experience develop a heightened sense of spirituality.”

Here, Murray succinctly captures the essence of the ageless siren call that is increasingly drawing lovers of inspirational landscapes to explore Ireland’s mystical pilgrim paths.

Advertisements

Flying the green flag in Waterford

Posted on

The Irish Times – Saturday, August 13, 2011

Flying the green flag in Waterford

GO BACK: ETHICAL TRAVELLER CATHERINE MACK on responsible tourism

THERE ARE some people who like to hide their green beliefs and then there are those who stick a great big flag in their garden to let the world know that being green is no mean feat these days, and so if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Glenribbeen Eco Lodge near Lismore, Co Waterford is a small B&B run by Els and Peter O’Connor which has greenness and kindness oozing from every open pore. I say open, because the doors of Glenribbeen are always open. If you turn up with your tent they’ll welcome you, with dogs, children, a horse, whatever, they would turn few away. Because Irish Peter and Dutch Els’ approach to hospitality and life are holistic and generous. They are both musicians and artists, growers and creators within the community, and the guesthouse is all part and parcel of that.

The flag is that of the EU Flower, the eco certification which Peter and Els were awarded in 2009, and with solar panels, rainwater harvesting, home-made briquettes, fine organic vegetarian food, bat boxes, free range hens pecking around the beautiful gardens and bird feeders at every turn, they have merited the accolade for sure.

However, it is individual dedication, imagination and understanding of the bigger picture of responsible tourism which makes a business truly sustainable, not just the solar panels or light bulbs. You can stick as many responsible tourism policies as you like on your website, or boast about all your eco-gadgets, but it’s the living and breathing it, having a real connection with how their tourism venture can be part of a wider green community, that makes Glenribbeen so special. Just have a quick look at Peter’s blog to see everything from a broad bean hummus recipe to creating a solar powered walkway in your garden, and this will give you an idea of his commitment to his beliefs.

This is not an eco-chic home, however, it is just a home built on sustainable, simple principles, with balconies made from recycled wood, vegetable gardens, books from second-hand shops, a living room full of musical instruments. It’s a place where Els’ beautiful paintings cover many of the walls and where Peter shares his passion for archery with guests by offering free lessons. They know the nearby walking and cycling routes like the back of their hands, with quiet trails straight out of their garden gate, taking you as far as the Vee Gap and the Knockmealdown Mountains. Or the O’Connors will arrange hired bikes to be delivered to the house from Lismore Cycling Holidays, with convenient off-road cycling into Lismore and the hills beyond.

We decided to explore the area from the water, however, and thanks to a tip from Peter, also a keen canoeist, we spent a few hours of a sunny late afternoon in the delightful company of Cappoquin man, Dennis Murray of Blackwater Boating who knows every bend, bridge and building on the river. His charm and local knowledge of not only the flora and fauna, but every historic building which overlooks the river, was enrapturing, regaling us with history one second, and heron spotting the next.

With so much attention given to Waterford’s fine beaches, we were amazed to see that this haven of river life was almost deserted.

Another wonderful facility on their doorstep is the wheelchair-friendly fishing boat, the Wheelyboat of which Peter is one of the registered captains. With fingers in many pies, a new project always on the go, Peter has a glass-half-full approach to life and, as we said our goodbyes, he gave us a stick of rosemary to put on the dashboard to bring energy to the driver and natural perfume for the passengers, and Els popped a parcel full of her speciality Dutch pancakes on the kids’ laps for the journey.

So, if you are looking for a place to stay in the Waterford area, owned by people to whom both generosity and green living come naturally, just follow the flag.


Ethicaltraveller.net, twitter.com/catherinemack. Catherine Mack is the author of a new travel app, Ireland Green Travel, available on iTunes.

glenribbeen.com; cyclingholid ays.ie; blackwaterboating.ie; and wheelyboats.org.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Here’s a nice ‘feel-good article on going green – the easy way by Aiden Gibson writing in an article for LinkedIn.

love our planet but what can we do to help us preserve it?

Global warming is a much more important subject than most of us think. I believe that the majority of humans will only see the importance of global warming when they are actually getting hurt by the process. We all need to be aware of the amount of co2 emissions that we are producing and what the effects are. Our planet is our life! Our future is our children!

So what can we do to help the future generations before its too late? Start looking for a new planet? Or… Just take some simple steps in order to reduce the global warming phenomenon. Which is easier said than done for some people but if we all participate then I am sure we can save the world!

save-energy

Energy saving around the home. Do not leave appliances on standby. Almost half of the power used to supply the average tv is used when it is on standby! You can save more than 70% of the energy lost just by fitting double glazing! Use energy saving light bulbs! Simple! Be more aware on what your thermostat is getting up to. You could save a nice little sum of money if install a programmable thermostat. Also, move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer. This could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. Take a shower instead of a bath. Simple!

Its not rocket science guys!

Energy saving on the road. You can reduce CO2 emissions by changing how you drive.Click here for tips on eco-driving!

cows

Why not…. Plant a tree. Or save a forest! Support renewable energy projects. Get your school or business to be more green. Eat fresh, organic and locally grown food. Or become a vegetarian!

What? Become a vegetarian!?

Yeah, why not? Because you love a nice and succulent medium/rare steak? Become a vegetarian. This is arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes (please do not be too rude in your comments on this article). Albert Einstein said it himself ‘Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.’ I could go on with some more quotes about vegetarianism by well respected leaders (contact me if you want to hear them), but for now lets get on with some facts.

Methane is 21 times more powerful than the greenhouse gas CO2. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. This methane is produced in the digestive processes of livestock, it may be a small amount of methane from each cow but this planet does have a lot of cows! And because cows eat a huge amount of grass and they have multiple stomachs this causes them to produce a large amount of methane, which they exhale with every breath.

If we eliminate our consumption of animal products by becoming vegetarian then we could eliminate the main producer of methane. I am not suggesting that we kill all of the cows! But once we all participate in being a veggie then we need not produce as many cows, which will result in lower amounts of global warming. Easy!

—   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —

I responded thus;

Phantom-power (units left on stand-by) isn't as widely appreciated as it
should be especially as a major source of fire in homes. I used to run
a painting and restoration business in the Netherlands and we had
'regular work' renovating homes after TV (mostly) fires where the
heat builds-up in the unit and the dust (initially) catches fire. This
leads to the plastic burning and filthy smoke destroying all paint and
furnishings in the room - before the fire spreads to carpet, curtains etc.
Two points; firstly phantom power costs money and energy. By switching
off the TV and all other units at night + DVD, satellite box (especially)
we save enough to pay for a holiday and more besides, plus we save
that much much more of the dwindling earth-supplies + we don't worry
about fire-hazard when we're out or in bed. Whatever the costs in 
power-savings, the cost of renovation and furniture etc in a housefire
is of course enormous compared do the cost of a simple switch to turn
everything off.
One last point - remember what started the fire - heat and DUST.
Vacuum around and behind all electrical appliances especially at the
air-intakes. By vacuuuming your speakers you'll eliminate that
annoying crackle that mars the music
 - what causes it - DUST.