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Where Old Meets Now

Join Phil and Elaine Brennan on this epic 5th Century trail starting out from the Round Tower at the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary passing through a stunning corridor of vales and hills over 5 days before arriving at the Round Tower of Ardmore in County Waterford on a journey back in time of more than 1,500 years. This 115 kilometre ancient path of Saint Declan pre-dates the Camino de Santiago by 400-years and invites you to leave your footprints in the land, to enjoy the fun of the adventure and to go deeper into the beauty of the places we pass along the way and the stories they hold. Each day can be shortened for those who prefer a taster experience.

St. Declan’s Way

Cashel to Ardmore – Cahir House Hotel – Mount Melleray Abbey – Ancient Castles – Celtic stories –
Mindful Moments – Mountain trails – monastic ruins by the shore in Ardmore… Round Tower to Round Tower 

 

St Declan’s Way is our signature Camino experience in Ireland. We have led many groups from Ireland and beyond on this age-old pilgrim trail. We’ve learned from our fellow travellers and adapted our programme to reflect what works best for everyone. We look after everything from your coach transfers to your accommodation to your guest guides, lunches, dinners and most importantly your pilgrim passport. You put your energies into walking the 115km from Cashel to Ardmore and leave the rest to us!

You arrive in on the Sunday evening and depart Friday afternoon. In between, 5 days of walking starting out from the Rock of Cashel on Monday morning and arriving onto the beach in Ardmore lunchtime Friday. Our base for the first 3 nights is Cahir House Hotel, and, as we make our way, we move to Mount Melleray Abbey Guest House for the last 2 nights of our Camino. The Abbey Guest House has a unique ambience to match its beautiful surrounds. Our visitors love Mount Melleray. It leaves a deep imprint long after the walking is over.

Our Camino along St Declan’s Way is only as good as the people we get to walk it with. The chats, the fun, the laughter, even the song is what keeps us going ’til we arrive into Ardmore. We try to strike a balance between making the walk a reflective time for each person but making sure that it is relaxed and enjoyable too. The meals each evening and especially our Gala Dinner on the Thursday night in Lismore make it a very memorable Camino. It’s the unscripted moments along the way that stay with you long after the walking is over.

 

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Sunday: Welcoming dinner in Cahir House Hotel

  • Check in to Cahir House Hotel any time from 3pm. Free parking in the hotel carpark.
  • Welcoming Dinner at 7pm.                                                    

Monday: Cashel to Cahir

  • Coach transfer from Cahir House Hotel to the Rock of Cashel at 8.45am.
  • We will take a guided tour of the Rock of Cashel to set us on our way. The ‘city of kings’ was home to the high kings of Munster who ruled for centuries from the magnificent site of the Rock of Cashel.
  • It was also from here that St. Declan left on his return to Ardmore after his many meetings with St. Patrick in the 5th Century. You sense the history as you leave behind this iconic pilgrim space to make your first steps en route to Ardmore.
  • Arrival in Cahir at approximately 3.30pm. Time to relax before evening dinner at 7pm.

Tuesday: Cahir to Goatenbridge

  • We leave the Hotel at 7.45am for our second day of the Camino. The earlier the start, the more time we’ll have to unwind in the afternoon. We will return to Cahir at approximately 3pm.
  • Local guides will join us over these few days from Cahir to Lismore. Whilst sharing the path with them, their stories will help us to connect fully with all who have passed this way before.
  • Afternoon, time to do as you wish. Explore the historic Cahir Castle, maybe a kayaking trip on the River Suir or discover the Swiss cottage. Even enjoy a fresh creamy pint of Guinness to mark the occasion. We gather for evening dinner at 7pm.

Wednesday: Knockmealdown Mountains to Mount Melleray

  • After early breakfast in Cahir House Hotel, we take our cars (or coach transfer if you use public transport) to our base for the next 3 days – Mount Melleray Abbey. By 8.30am we are ready to leave the carpark at Mount Melleray Abbey and take a transfer to the Liam Lynch Memorial from where we start out on Day 3 of our Camino.
  • This day’s trail passes through undulating but beautifully picturesque terrain as we make our way onto Mount Melleray Abbey, near Cappoquin. Mount Melleray is one of the major milestones along St. Declan’s way, although of course it was not there in Declan’s time. The monastery has been home to a community of Cistercian (or Trappist) monks for nearly 200 years. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Irish men who wished to become Cistercian monks travelled to the continent.
  • This 14km walk across the Knockmealdown Mountains is spellbinding in its beauty. There’s a challenge in the climb around the mountains but the panorama that opens up as we reach the other side makes it all the more worthwhile. We pause to have our lunch in the early afternoon before continuing on through the woods as we make our descent into Mount Melleray.
  • We check into the Guesthouse on arrival at the Abbey mid-afternoon giving you plenty of time to soak up the unique peaceful ambience of this special place. Dinner is served by the monks at 6.30pm.
  • During our time in Mount Melleray, we will be staying in the en-suite guest rooms and we have the option of attending morning and evening prayer. Everyone works to their own spiritual rhythm. You are free to do what sits best with you. We just ask that everyone respects this monastic space and appreciates the privilege of being able to stay here. 

Thursday: Lismore to Villierstown

  • We’ll follow the flow of the River Blackwater as it leads us gently on towards Cappoquin and on into Villierstown.
  • As we leave Lismore, we are met by a local guide from Lismore Heritage Centre who gives us a unique insight into the story of Lismore and it people. It’s amazing to think that this place was a centre of monasticism going back over 1,000 years in the time of St Carthage. The Castle, Lady Louisa’s Walk, the River Blackwater all form a stunning backdrop to our departure on Day 4. We’ll come back to Lismore on Friday night for our Gala Dinner. We’ll have earned it by then.
  • 8km down the line, we stop off in Barron’s Bakery, Cappoquin to sample their renowned coffee and homemade cuisine. It’s sets us up for the day ahead.
  • We come off the way marked trail on this day to make our way past Dromana Estate into Villierstown for lunch. We make time for a short ‘mindful moment’ by the river before our return to Mount Melleray Abbey.
  • In the evening, Gala Dinner in Foley’s Bar and Restaurant Lismore.

Friday: Ballycurrane to Ardmore

  • Our final day’s Camino leads us over beautiful undulating vales and hills to where the sea gradually opens up before us as we arrive into Ardmore.
  • On arrival into Ardmore, we’ll have lunch by the sea before taking the cliff path from the Holy Well and Hermitage of St Declan around to the monastic ruins.
  • We gather at St. Declan’s Well to mark the moment. You will feel a sense of achievement of having walked from Cashel to Ardmore as St. Declan himself did over 1,600 years ago.
  • Mid-afternoon, we wrap up in Ardmore in time for you to make your way home or make your way to your next destination if you’re continuing your holiday in Ireland.

    Click here to capture a little of the flavour of what you can expect along St Declan’s Way.

Each stage of St Declan’s Way is 12 to 18km per day. We adapt the distance covered to suit each group. With most groups we average around 15km per day which leaves plenty of time to enjoy the places we visit along the way.

 

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PRICE: €1,250* includes:

  • 5 nights bed and breakfast, 5 evening dinners and daily packed lunches for your Camino. (3 nights in Cahir House Hotel and 2 nights in Mount Melleray Abbey)
  • Hosts Dr. Phil and Elaine Brennan.
  • Guest local guides over the 5 days on Camino.
  • Coach transfers and car parking for the duration of your Camino in the carpark at Cahir House Hotel and Mount Melleray Abbey.
  • Gala Dinner on the Thursday night in Foley’s Bar and Restaurant, Lismore.
  • St. Declan’s Way Camino Passport and completion stamp.

Single Room Supplement inclusive of 5 nights is €200.

*Note: Despite increases in costs, we have kept our price for 2024 the same as 2023 so as to make our St Declan’s Way Experience within the reach of all.

**Note: Celtic Ways Ireland can put the pieces in place for the rest of your vacation in Ireland from sorting transfers or accommodation or guiding you in terms of how to get the most out of the remainder of your time in Ireland.

***Note: For groups of 10 or more, contact us directly on info@celticwaysireland.com and we can arrange dates and tailor the experience to make it work for you and your group. We still have limited availability for 2024. 

Policy re deposits… Your deposit is non-refundable. We pay all our suppliers in advance of the tour. Every effort will be made to re-schedule your booking within the same year if you have to withdraw. 

 

What our guests say:

I completed the five-day St. Declan’s Way pilgrimage with a huge sense of personal satisfaction and triumph thanks in no small way to Phil and Elaine Brennan. The logistics were impeccably organized, freeing me to engage fully in the pilgrimage experience. Phil and Elaine were there throughout to pass along their knowledge, provide encouragement when the walking became challenging and to enjoy many a laugh with us. They are well-connected with both the local landscape and the local people, sharing these connections freely. St. Declan’s Way in itself is a spectacular walk. But, it is the warmth and kindness of the Brennans that made it such an enriching experience for me. (Margaret, Canada)

 

I went on the tour to reunite with a group of friends living across the US. That alone would have made this a special time, but thanks to Phil and Elaine, it was much more. They handled logistics with ease and flexibility, and are clearly experienced and prepared. Our entire group loved the hand-picked local experts they brought in to spend time with us along the way. The team’s passion and knowledge about the significance of the route, and, more generally, Irish history and culture shone through. However, what really set the tour apart was Phil and Elaine’s genuine interest in each person, and their personalized efforts to make the tour fun, meaningful and memorable for all. They also took initiative to assist me and others to prepare for other parts of our stay in Ireland – above and beyond the call of duty! Thank you! (Jeanna Holtz, USA)

 

I am still in awe of my experience walking ‘The Way of St Declan’. All the walking, laughter, meditating, and singing created an atmosphere of camaraderie and lasting friendships. Phil is the ultimate tour director. My husband wanted to join me but not to walk – just fish. Phil connected him with the experts in the area and off we went to Ireland. Phil and Elaine are exemplary tour partners who demonstrate their love of the profession. (Mary Andrulewicz, USA)

 

Not usually one for tours or guided anything, I typically prefer to explore on vacations in private, but we were after something specific in looking for a walking experience of Ireland this time, and I could not imagine a better trip! Everything was so personalized, thoughtful, tactful and authentic. Plenty of options, no pressure, to give everyone a chance to get what they want out of their trip. We most enjoyed our interactions with the various local guides and individuals we met, hearing about the history as we went along, but in a way that was relaxed and easy. Phil and Elaine are the most attentive, wonderful hosts – the care and thought they provided at every step is unmatched – I would recommend this trip to anyone and everyone! Every good wish to them both with Celtic Ways Ireland. (Alana Clapp, USA)

 

WOW run don’t walk (you can walk when you get there) to Waterford Camino Tours soon to be known as Celtic Ways Ireland! Phil and Elaine are truly the best. Every need we had, every desire we sought, every moment was fulfilled to the highest level. Not to mention the fun we had every day. They are the complete package of knowledge, joy and comfort. You will feel completely taken care of if you join Phil and Elaine on ANY tour! I am still reeling with the memories of each day’s highlights. The special surprise guests throughout the tour made it perfect. They will make your vacation one of the best. I truly cannot say enough about my wonderful experience. (Missy Radcliffe, USA)

 

Had a wonderful St. Declan’s Way in August 2023 with Waterford Camino Tours. Phil and Elaine were informative, enthusiastic, engaging and so much fun! They took care of our every need – we were well fed, stayed at incredible locations, and met the most amazing people along the way. They provided experiences on the trip that I will remember and cherish. I highly recommend them and I will not hesitate to contact their newly formed Celtic Ways Ireland for my next trip to Ireland from the United States. (Cindy Payne, USA)

 

What an amazing week l had with you and everyone in the group! The walking was spectacular, to be honest l didn’t imagine myself walking an average of 17 kms a day, but you made it so easy and the company and stories were so good, l often forgot ..I must also mention the special guests along the way, Conor who l spent much time with! Mark, who l learned so much about the natural fauna along the sides of the track were just two. The attention to detail and care of the group made this Camino (my first) truly exceptional. Thank you with all my heart.(Racheli Wolfson, Israel)

 

Departure Dates for 2024:

  • May 12th-17th
  • June 2nd-7th
  • July 7th-12th (Fully booked) 
  • August 18th-23rd (Fully booked) 
  • September 8th-13th

Please email us at info@celticwaysireland.com for further details and to check availability.

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