Above: Walking to Gougane. This group of walkers from Tipperary were on the fourth pilgrim walk under the new Irish Pilgrim Passport. They have now become the first group to receive the Certificate of Completion from Ballintubber Abbey in Co, Mayo. Many others will follow.
Pilgrim Walks from Drimoleague to Gougane Barra have received a fresh impetus with the inclusion of the walk among the Five Medieval Pilgrim Paths of Ireland, which are eligible to receive the ‘’Teastas Oilithreacha’’ or Certificate of Completion from Ballintubber Abbey in Co Mayo. The five walks include St Kevin’s Way to Glendalough; Cnoc na dTobar near Cahirciveen; Cosán na Naomh in Dingle; Tochár Phádraig to Croagh Patrick, and finally St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Way in West Cork. A special passport has been produced with pictures and detailed maps of each walk. The passport will then be stamped at the end of each walk where proof is shown that one has completed it. This proof can vary from ‘selfies’ along the way to evidence from fellow pilgrims, and occasionally it may even include blisters on the feet! At Gougane Barra, this duty is ably carried out by Neil Lucey of the Gougane Barra Hotel.
The 37km walk from the Top of the Rock near Drimoleague to Gougane Barra passes through Castledonovan, the Mealagh Valley and Kealkil before it descends majestically into Gougane Barra via the Horseshoe Walk. It traverses the Ilen, Mealagh, Ouvane and Lee river valleys and their associated mountain systems which rise to almost 500 meters. The way is very well marked with the St Finbarr logo on each post. Phone coverage is good, but great care needs to be taken in fog, and it certainly should not be undertaken in poor weather conditions.
This August there are two walks planned: The Community St Finbarr’s Walk on Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7: Contact Michael O’Sullivan on 087 7641420; or the Contemplative St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Walk on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14: Contact David Ross 086 1735134. All are welcome. A small charge is made for bus returns etc. Further details on www.drimoleaguewalkway.com and www.topoftherock.ie and from the Gougane Barra Hotel 026 47069.