The official opening of St. Declan’s Way took place yesterday and is the culmination of almost a decade of work to revive this ancient pilgrim path.
Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD officially launched the 115km walking trail during a visit to Mount Melleray Abbey in County Waterford. The Minister’s Department provided support under the Rural Recreation Fund to bring the project to fruition.
St. Declan’s Way has long been part of the heritage and folklore of West Waterford and South Tipperary. The trail recalls journeys made by Declan in the fifth century from his monastery in Ardmore northwards to Cashel, the seat of the Kings of Munster. Declan is credited with bringing Christianity to his Déise people who ruled this part of Ireland in his lifetime.
Renewed interest in pilgrim walking in recent years spurred local communities to come together to make this ancient path accessible as a modern walking trail. Old laneways were cleared, new signs replaced old ones and all trail infrastructure is now in place. St Declan’s Way got the green light from Sport Ireland last June and is now on the National Trails Register.
The revitalisation of St. Declan’s Way is a tremendous example of partnership in action and many organisations and agencies working together to achieve this goal. Funding came from the Department of Rural & Community Development under the Rural Recreation Fund, along with a private donation from the Tomar Trust. The cooperation and support of more than 40 landowners along the trail was vital. Local Development Agencies Waterford LEADER Partnership and South Tipperary Development CLG and both Waterford City & County Council and Tipperary County Council backed the project at an early stage.
The key driver of the project was the St. Declan’s Way Management Committee, a voluntary group with representation from communities along the trail. It is primarily thanks to their efforts that this wonderful amenity is now available to all.
St. Declan’s Way has the potential to be a great asset to tourism, business and communities along the trail. Feedback so far from walkers has been very positive and with the economy and society now reopened after Covid, the future looks bright. The message is very clear: get your walking boots on and get out on the trail and enjoy the natural beauty, history and folklore of St. Declan’s Way. For information on all aspects of St. Declan’s Way visit www.stdeclansway.ie