Mayo’s ancient route-way welcomes modern pilgrims

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Tóchar Phádraig is a walkway that leads from Ballintubber Abbey to Croagh Patrick. This old pilgrim road stretches about 35km across mid-Mayo on a route that is both cross-country and down quiet rural roads. Each year, Ballintubber Abbey organises four group walks during the summer months.

The Tóchar is an historical route-way which served an important land-based transport system in ancient and medieval times. They were particularly associated with pilgrimages and ecclesiastical foundations.

It is speculated that Tóchar Phádraig is based on an earlier route from Cruacháin, Co Roscommon  ̶  the seat of the Kings of Connacht  ̶  to Croagh Patrick, which itself is a site of ancient ritual activity.

The starting point is the abbey where an introduction to the pilgrimage is given. The route meanders through the landscape, moving through meadows, along ridges and across boggy areas. Even the on-road sections can be very sedate with little passing traffic.  

Only a few climb to the actual summit of Croagh Patrick, as it is an extra undertaking: the main walk is the route itself, in doing this you have completed the pilgrimage.

“Reminding yourself that life is a journey not a destination, you now let slow motion time drift past on diaphanous wings while you absorb the timeless sensations and colours of the Mayo countryside,”  ̶  John G O’Dwyer, Pilgrim Trail, The Irish Times, July 14, 2012.

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