Huge plans for Columban Way

Huge plans for Columban Way

7 February 2024

A GROUP which is planning to develop local walking routes which will be part of an international tourist attraction has held its annual meeting.

The Columban Way is a pilgrim route that follows the footsteps of Columbanus through eight European countries, with the Friends of Columbanus driving the project with those leading the project keen to see the dream finally becoming a reality.

Running from Newry to Rostrevor and over the Mournes into Newcastle and to Downpatrick before making its way to Comber via Killyleagh and the shores of Strangford Lough, the route uses existing sections of the Ulster Way path network.

Those behind the ambitious project say they recognise it offers huge potential to boost the local economy and tourism in all the local areas where the route passes through.

At the recent annual meeting, the group’s chairwoman Deborah Girvan reported on an another busy year.

Activities included walks, talks, lobbying local politicians, workshops and events. 

Mrs Girvan said four events stood out – the launch of the Columban Way Mapping Project in June, the visit to St Gallen in Switzerland for the handover of 1,146 signatures from Northern Ireland to support the Columban Charter of Partnership in July, the visit of 46 Bretons who arrived in Bangor to explore Columbanus heritage in September; and the annual Columbanus Festival in November. 

The chairwoman said she is delighted that all the current committee members have been re-elected for the incoming year.

She also reported that that three new members have joined the Executive Committee including Ards and North Down Mayor Karen Douglas, Bangor Academy teacher Emma Coulter who has been appointed European Officer, and Frances O’Tianaigh. 

Mrs Girvan said the group have lots of events lined up starting with a talk by Dr Damian Bracken entitled ‘Ireland and the Birth of Europe’ on February 22 at Bangor’s Carnegie Library. 

“We are working with our colleagues in the Republic of Ireland to plan a walk along the Columban Way from Bunclody in Co Carlow to Bangor during the month of April/beginning of May,” she said.

“This will be the first time that groups of people will walk the full length of the Columban Way, a journey of 400 miles on the island of Ireland.”

Further information on the work of Friends of Columbanus Bangor and how to join is available at