The Columban Way is a new trail, starting in Mount Leinster, Co Carlow, and snaking through Ireland to Bangor in Northern Ireland.
We attended the recent launch of the Carlow leg of The Columban Way, in the company of soccer legend Paul McGrath. Also present were representatives of Carlow and Wexford County Councils, Carlow Tourism, and the Friends of St Columbanus. St Columbanus was born at the foot of Mount Leinster and this heritage and cultural walk follows in his footsteps.
The Columban Way to Europe
The Columban Way marks the first stage of what is known as the Via Columbani. From Bangor, it crosses the Irish Sea and takes in eight countries – Britain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Italy. It ends up in Bobbio, northern Italy, where the Sixth Century monk is buried. Once the trail is fully developed, it will stretch across 530km in Ireland, taking in Carlow, Wexford, Kildare, Laois, Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Armagh, and Down. Rivalling the Camino, it will traverse 6,000km across Europe.
In Ireland, the trail links three areas associated with St Columbanus. There’s his birthplace at Mount Leinster, Co Carlow; his place of study at Cleenish Island, Co Fermanagh; and the monastery he joined in Bangor, Co Down.
St Columbanus was busy. He founded monasteries in Annegray, Fontaine-les-Luzeuil and Luxeuil-les-Bains in the foothills of the Vosges mountains in eastern France. More monasteries followed in Bregenz on the banks of Lake Constance in Austria and in Bobbio, Italy.
Walking trails in Carlow
The Columban Way is just the latest addition to walking trails in Co Carlow. We have previously walked the Clashganny Forest Looped Walk along the River Barrow. Graiguenamanagh to St Mullins, again along the Barrow, is a wonderful walk. The Mullachain Café in St Mullins, with outdoor seating in fine weather, is reason enough to do this walk!
Other walks we have done include Clongrennan Wood outside Carlow town and Kilbrannish Looped Walks outside Bunclody. And you can run or walk the 5km trail at Rathwood, outside Tullow – and enjoy refreshments at the café!