Series of walks in footsteps of Saint Patrick

Series of walks in footsteps of Saint Patrick

24 June 2020

THE Saint Patrick Centre is launching a series of Saint Patrick experiences to revive tourism in Downpatrick post Covid-19.

The centre is starting its St Patrick’s Way walks next Wednesday — epic journeys in the spirit of St Patrick with tour guides Martina Purdy and Elaine Kelly.

The former BBC correspondent and barrister, once Adoration Sisters, have become pilgrim guides and visitors are invited to join them in following in the footsteps of St Patrick across seven sites that form part of his outstanding legacy in Downpatrick and the surrounding area.

“Come and have the walk of your life,” said Martina. “Downpatrick is holy ground and pilgrims have been coming for hundred of years to visit our local sites. This is a tradition needed more than ever as people search for meaning in their lives.”

There will be walks every Wednesday and Thursday throughout the summer.

They will begin at St Patrick Centre where participants will receive their ‘Pilgrim Passport’ and learn more about the slave who transformed a nation. 

They will then be able to journey back to Inch Abbey, visit the cradle of Christianity in Saul where Patrick founded his first church and experience Struell Wells which predates Patrick’s own arrival in 432 AD.

Martina, who has accepted a marketing role with the St Patrick Centre, has based the pilgrims’ passports on those which are used on the famous Camino de Santiago — known in English as the Way of St James — in northwestern Spain.

“The passport, which will carry an emblem of a brown coloured mitre, will require at least seven stamps that can be obtained at each of the many historical sites along the 14 mile-trail from Inch Abbey to Struell Wells,” she said. 

“We are hoping to tie in with local business, as we’ve been working hard to attract the international market and who should be able to avail from the added foot fall.

Martina says the walks are for people of all faiths want to explore the area. 

“Fundamentally though, it is a way of tranquility for everyone who wants to experience goodness, beauty and truth,” she added.

Elaine says she fell instantly in love with the Downpatrick when she arrived several months ago.

She said: “The journey will encourage people to reignite with their faith. It reaches people at every level regardless of where they are spiritually, emotionally or physically. 

A spokesman for the St Patrick Centre said: ”This new period of holidaying at home will offer a chance to showcase what the area has to offer.”

To take part in the Saint Patrick’s Way walks call 028 4461 9000. The cost is £45 for a full day, £30 for a half day or £55 for two half days. Lunch at Paddy’s Barn is included.