Faith Matters

Come and be amazed by St Patrick's Way - in Irish and English

The grave of St Patrick at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick. Picture by Mark Marlow

A bilingual 'camino' style pilgrim walk will take its first steps on Sunday when a new tour of sites associated with St Patrick gets underway.

It is the latest offering from the St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, where former Adortation Sisters Martina Purdy and Elaine Kelly are involved in leading a number of 'St Patrick's Way' walking experiences.

The new 10-mile tour is conducted in both Irish and English and led by Jean O'Neill.

The inaugural walk will be launched by Irish language activist Linda Ervine at Saul Church of Ireland.

"I'm looking forward to launching this wonderful opportunity for Irish speakers from all faiths to learn more about our shared patron, St Patrick," she said.

As well as Saul - where St Patrick established his first church in 432AD and also, in 461AD, died - the tour takes in the saint's national monument at Slieve Patrick, overlooking Strangford Lough, and Struell Wells, a place of pilgrimage for centuries because of its holy wells.

Struell Wells, close to Downpatrick, is associated with St Patrick

St Patrick's Catholic Church and the saint's grave at Down Cathedral are further stopping points.

Dr Tim Campbell, director of the St Patrick Centre, said that the saint himself "was once a beginner in Irish and he learned the language as a way of connecting with the people".

"This tour is a great chance to connect with the our rich heritage, other pilgrim walkers and the beauty of the landscape," he said.

"It doesn't matter if you can speak Irish fluently or are just interested in how Irish unlocks the history of the landscape in which we live - come and be amazed."

The bilingual St Patrick's Way guided tour starts at noon on Sunday July 12. Prices begin at £30 and include lunch. For more information telephone 028 4461 9000 or visit www.saintpatrickcentre.com

Irish language enthusiast Jean O'Neill will lead the bilingual St Patrick's Way walking tour

Irish language enthusiast Jean O'Neill will lead the bilingual St Patrick's Way walking tour

Irish language enthusiast Jean O'Neill will lead the bilingual St Patrick's Way walking tour

Irish language enthusiast Jean O'Neill will lead the bilingual St Patrick's Way walking tour

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