St. Declan’s Way Approved by Sport Ireland

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St. Declan’s monastery in Ardmore, County Waterford. Image: Celticroutes.info

Recreational tourism in West Waterford and South Tipperary got a boost this week with the news that St. Declan’s Way has been officially approved as a walking trail by Sport Ireland.

The entire route from Cashel to Ardmore is now fully signposted, waymarked and insured and the hike can now be taken on by walkers from near and far. St. Declan’s Way is a modern walking trail with a pilgrim theme that pays homage to Declan .

He founded his monastery at Ardmore in the fifth century and brought Christianity to his Déise people who ruled this part of Ireland 1,500 years ago. His life story tells us that he travelled north to Cashel, seat of the Kings of Munster, to meet his contemporary Saint Patrick.

This was just one of many journeys he made across the Knockmealdowns. The newly-opened walking trail is a wonderful mixture of quiet country roads and laneways, farm and forest tracks, riverside and seaside walks and the splendid Knockmealdown mountains. At 115km in length, the linear trail takes around 5 or 6 days to complete and it is waymarked in both directions. Walkers pass many historic places on their trek, including the Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle, Lady’s Abbey, Mount Melleray Abbey and Lismore Castle.

The highlight and final destination is St. Declan’s monastery and resting place in Ardmore. The addition of St. Declan’s Way to the National Trails Register follows a detailed inspection by Sport Ireland in June. Reaching this milestone was the culmination of many years’ work by the St. Declan’s Way Management Committee, a voluntary group with representation from communities along the trial.

The project had wider support from a number of quarters. More than 40 landowners gave permission for the trail to pass through their lands. Waterford LEADER Partnership, South Tipperary Development CLG, Waterford City & County Council and Tipperary County Council worked closely with the committee to bring the​project to fruition. The Department of Rural & Community Development, under the Rural Recreation Fund, and the Tomar Trust provided vital funding. Other agencies including Fáilte Ireland, Munster Vales and Coillte Teoranta lent their support. Approval is timely given that the saint’s feast day falls at the end of this week on July 24 th . Declan covered a lot of ground on foot in his lifetime and the message to walkers now is to follow in his footsteps, get your boots on and get out on this fantastic new trail. Further information on St. Declan’s Way, including maps, can be found online on www.stdeclansway.ie and also on the Sport Ireland website www.sportireland.ie