In the steps of our ancestors – our Camino in Ireland’s South East
What’s worth achieving does not just happen overnight. Often the harder the pathway, the greater the satisfaction when you reach the summit and breathe in all that opens up before you. Somewhere along the way, we sense the spirit of those who have gone before. Nature has a way of reminding us that we are not alone… that we’re one tiny melodic note in a wider symphony that echoes from afar. When the universe speaks, it pays to listen.
“We’re delighted to be teaming up with Phil and Elaine from Waterford Camino Tours to offer some really exciting new holidays together from 2020. Journeying has been running holidays in the Celtic countries for over 30 years for guests mainly from Britain and North America. They’ve been asking for more holidays in Ireland so our new partnership is really going to meet the need. And jointly with Phil and Elaine, we’ll be giving a very warm welcome to Irish guests who want to try out our new holidays in Wales too. Our first joint holiday is the Irish Camino Experience in March 2020 with Dungarvan, Co. Waterford as our base for the 6 days. We’re also developing joint pilgrimage style holidays from Ireland to St. David’s in Wales. Watch this space.” (Iain Tweedale, ‘Journeying’)
(Memorable day on ‘The Way of St. David’, in Wales, with
David Gleed and Iain Tweedale, from Journeying)
The Waterford Camino signature 6 Day experience will leave imprints that will last a lifetime. Every day, you can expect something totally different to what has gone before; a mountain trail one day, an old coastal pilgrim path another, a cliff walk, a Taizé Vigil led by members of the Island of Ireland Peace Choir, even a cycle on the Waterford Greenway or a walk around the mystical lakes of Glendalough. Our Camino in Ireland’s South East is a unique blend that is good for mind, body and soul.
The Waterford Camino experience is a time to pause our lives and take stock. Our walks are gentle, interspersed with some mindful, Christian reflection. We pace our trails so that no one is left behind (8km to 20km daily). Time-out in the great outdoors is as much about fun and adventure as it is about connecting to something deeper within ourselves.
Day 1: Arrival in Dungarvan
Our base for the 6 days is Brownes Townhouse, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. Your meals are prepped for you daily and served up to you, your accommodation is beautiful, your coach transfers each day are planned for you. All you’ve to do is show up. Leave the rest to us!
Day 2: Comeragh Mountains
8 km walk from the Mahon Falls in the heart of the Comeragh Mountains following the river as it meanders downstream through the numinous shades of Crough Woods below. Nature bares its soul as you take your first steps on the Waterford Camino out to the Falls. There’s a subliminal symmetry to it all – sheep, mountains, rocky hillsides, a forest pathway and the soothing sounds of the River Mahon as it flows from source to the awaiting ocean beyond. Here, in this amphitheatre of stillness, we sense we are part of something greater than ourselves.
Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and was founded by the Vikings in the 9th Century. The team at Waterford Treasures Museum bring the story of the city to life in ways that echo long after the visit is over.
The 15th Century Wine Vault still stands in silent homage to a bygone time and is living testimony to Waterford’s historic association with the Camino. It was from this ancient citadel hidden in the undercroft of museum that Mayor James Rice set out on 2 epic voyages to Spain to complete the Camino de Santiago in the 1400s. Seems only right then to relax in the enchanting surrounds of the 13th Century Choristers’ Hall alongside the Wine Vault and enjoy the Irish Tapas Experience of wine, music and song. These moments are worth savouring!
Day 3: St. Declan’s Way
St. Declan’s Way takes us on an old pilgrim route that can be traced back to the 5th Century, almost 400 years before the first pilgrims trekked across the Camino de Santiago. Against the awesome backdrop of the bay in Ardmore, the early morning walk along the cliff brings us face to face with timeless relics from our Celtic past – St. Declan’s Well, Ardmore Round Tower and a 12th Century Cathedral. From here, we make our way through some of the iconic stretches of the pilgrim path St. Declan set out on some 1,500 years ago (8 to 20km. Your choice!).
The beautiful heritage town of Lismore, Co. Waterford has a rich and fascinating history which comes alive in our visit to Lismore Heritage Centre. Founded by St. Carthage and his community of monks in 636 AD, Lismore gained its most famous feature, its castle, in 1185 when Prince John built a fortress on the banks of the River Blackwater. Lismore Castle belonged to the famous adventurer, Sir Walter Raleigh, who sold it to Richard Boyle, the Great Earl of Cork and father of scientist Robert Boyle. The castle has been standing strong through the centuries and is now home to the Duke of Devonshire. Here, by the river’s edge, past and present merge to connect us to something ageless within our reach.
Day 4: Waterford Greenway
11 km walk along the old railway line from Waterford City to Kilmeaden on the Waterford Greenway. There’s something about the Greenway early morning as the river lulls us unknowingly beyond the fretful stir of the city. It’s as though our cadence slows down in unspoken harmony with the river’s flow.
All around you can see signs of what has gone before… the old railway line, Viking ruins shielded beneath its grassy vault, the graceful foliage of Mount Congreve Gardens 300 years on, the desolate ruins of an old watch tower desecrated by Cromwell and his troops in times gone by. We become temporary voyagers in a timeless odyssey.
We have the option as part of our Waterford Greenway experience of cycling the last stretch from Durrow into Dungarvan. As you cycle, you leave the world as you know it and enter a magical new zone. Adjusting to the radiant hues as we leave the dimmed enchantment of Durrow Tunnel behind, then surveying the panoramic vista that awaits us as we free wheel towards Clonea… you feel liberated to be part of it all.
Day 5: To the waters and the wild
We start our day with a scenic coach journey along the Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark from Dungarvan to Tramore. On arrival in this seaside town, we have a choice of an 8km walk around the sand dunes on the beach or a beautiful cliff walk along the path from Newtown Cove. Ice-cream on the promenade or a mindful stroll through the Lafcadio Hearn Gardens completes the experience!
Then on to Dunmore East for a 3 km. cliff walk trail from the harbour to Portally Cove. There’s something timeless about this place that draws you in. It’s good to stand still and soak in the beauty that stretches out from the headland seawards. Energy ripples in symmetry with the dancing of the waves. We begin to see what might otherwise pass us by; the magical hues of the azure ocean as it laps onto the flat rocks, the languid majesty of the seal as it basks in the sun, the silhouette of Hook Lighthouse as it peers out through misty skies.
A short trip out to sea on return is a must! Time in ‘The Keltoi Warrior’ opens our pores to the wonders of the universe. Brendan takes us on a voyage of discovery, sharing anecdotes on the coves and sea caves, narrowing the lens to absorb the sublime beauty of the miniscule against the towering backdrop of the cliffs. Here, by the water’s edge, it’s good to anchor for a while and simply soak it all in.
Day 6: Glendalough – the journey home
Glendalough, a name that echoes around the world as a place of profound beauty and tranquility, is located within a valley of two lakes in Co. Wicklow, Ireland. This place is a sacred space, captivating in its beauty and in its serenity. We are joined here by a member of the Tearmann Spirituality team to share the pathway that pilgrims for centuries have trod.
In the 6th Century on the lake shore, a Christian hermit named Kevin established a small monastic settlement. This early Christian community became one of the cradles of Celtic spirituality and Irish monasticism. After Kevin’s death in 618 AD, a great monastery flourished in the valley right up to the 12th Century. The ruins of this monastic city still remain, with a magnificent round tower, a beautiful 11th Century stone church and the high cross that has guided many a pilgrim home for over a 1,000 years.
En route to Glendalough, we’ll step back in time to visit a 12th century Abbey in Ferns, County Wexford, which stands at the centre of an earlier monastic enclosure established in the late 6th century by St. Aidan (Maedoc, Mogue, Maodhóg, Edan). High crosses nearby are testament to Ferns significant ecclesiastical history. Spend a while connecting with the past in this wonderful setting.
Welsh tradition maintains that Aidan succeeded David as Abbot in Menevia, Pembrokeshire. It is said that what distinguished him from his fellow monks is that he brought his own beer from his native land. Aidan’s reputation for compassion endures to this day. He made it a precondition for all monks who followed in the steps of Jesus to share their food with those in need. Time is St. Aidan’s Ferns is precious time and reminds us of our shared Celtic past. It is a beautiful coincidence that my hometown of Gorey is only down the road. Serendipity at its best!
Elaine and myself are excited rolling out our Irish Camino Experience from Spring 2020.The pieces are falling into place. We’ve learned a lot along the way. Where we’ve arrived at feels right! For further information, check out our website on waterfordcamino.com or email Phil and Elaine directly at firstname.lastname@example.org