From Ballintubber Abbey stretching out to Croagh Patrick is Tóchar Phádraig, the ancient pilgrim path.
Originally it was the chariot road that went from Rathcruachan, the seat of the Kings and Queens of Connacht, to Aughagower and Cruachan Aille, as Croagh Patrick was called in Pre-Christian times.
After St Patrick’s time pilgrims began to traverse that same road to the holy mountain and over time it became known as Tóchar Phádraig or St Patrick’s Causeway.
After the pilgrimages to Jerusalem ceased in the C13th due to the taking over of the Holy Places by the Saracens, the pilgrimages to Croagh Patrick became even more important. When Ballintubber Abbey was built in 1216 a hostel was also put in place to cater for the many pilgrims. This hostel, the remains of which can be seen today in the grounds, incorporated a place for both ritual washing and actual cleansing. It is called Danchora or the ‘Bath of the righteous’.
After 1588 it went into decline as a public road and in Penal times it ceased to be used as a pilgrim path. In 1987 it was restored and every year hundreds of pilgrims walk Tóchar Phádraig on pilgrimage – a distance of 22 miles (35km).
As you walk the Tóchar’, whether on foot or in fantasy, you will be going not only on a spiritual pilgrimage, but on a cultural and historical journey down through the ages also. Both experiences, if fully entered into, should bring about the change of heart and insight of mind which is essential to a pilgrim’s progress.
Every tree, every stone, every hill and hollow along the way seemed to cry out with a story. For everything, it seemed, had been adopted into human history. The fields and rocks and streams had been the recipients of man’s sweat and blood and tears they had been named and given identity by these same human events.
We are now also part of the Pilgrim Paths of Ireland. The Pilgrim Paths of Ireland are a collection of ancient religious routes with well documented claims of having been used by pilgrims since ancient times. Walking these ageless trails not only offers the opportunity for spiritual renewal but also provides a link to our past, while contributing to sustainable tourism and community development in each area. You can obtain your passport for all 5 walks here in Ballintubber and once completed we will issue your Teastas.
‘A Pilgrim Walk’ – Elements of Pilgrimage
There are certain elements of Pilgrimage built into the walk and reminders of these are erected at certain places along the way. They distinguish the ‘Pilgrim’ from the ‘Tourist’
Penance – No complaining. Instead say “Thanks be to God”
Community – Include ‘the stranger’ in your group – No ‘Cliques’
Faith – Light a Candle as symbol of your faith before setting out
Mystery – Silence observed at certain designated parts of Tochar.
Celebration – Share your Food, your Joy, your Love and your Care
Registration and Regulations:
N.B. Minimum of Two people must walk together for Health & Safety Reasons if doing the Tochár on their own.
- There are five official walks organised by the Abbey in May, June, July, August and December (Contact Office For Details, please see below). A ‘back up car’ and transport back to the Abbey is provided.
- Other walkers may organise their own groups but must comply with the following details:
- All walkers must register at Ballintubber Abbey and sign a declaration, exempting Ballintubber Abbey Trust and farmers from liability, should a mishap or accident take place. Registration fee €10.
- All walkers must comply with the regulations for walking the Tóchar
- Those under 18 years must be accompanied by an adult (Health & Safety)
- It is important that the walkers notify the Abbey on completion of Walk by leaving message on answering machine.
Contact Ballintubber Abbey
Upcoming Tóchar Phádraig
Easter Monday 22nd April (17Km) (1st Half) at 11.00am
Saturday 25th May at 8.30am (17Km )(1st Half)
Saturday 29th June at 8.30am (17Km)(2nd Half)
Reek Sunday 28th July at 8.30am (35K)(Full)
Saturday 31st August at 8.30am (35K)(Full)
St Stephen’s Day 26th December (17Km) at 11am