Lough Derg: Ancient Pilgrim Path Walk’


NEWS RELEASE        29th July 2009

Step back in time-walk in the footsteps of your ancestors at

Lough Derg – Sunday 16th August 2009

Join us, support us and celebrate with us –that is the message

from Lough Derg as they launch the first ever ‘Ancient Pilgrim

Path Walk’ as part of an inaugural National Day event.

Lough Derg, listed as one of the top 10 pilgrimage sites in Europe in The Times earlier this year, has been around for 1500 years so a National Day to celebrate that rich past in Ireland’s Christian heritage is well overdue. Anyone who has had the privilege of being able ‘to do’ Lough Derg knows that it involves a fair bit of walking, indeed pilgrimage the world over is synomous with walking, a journey of sorts…so what better way to launch the first National Lough Derg Day, than with a sponsored walk. . . not just any old walk but a walk following the ancient path to the famous pilgrimage site, which our ancestors would have travelled by foot.

Taking place on Sunday 16th August, it will be an historic but fun way to end the traditional three-day pilgrimage season which kicked off on 29th May and continues until 15th August. Lough Derg is welcoming ‘walkers’ and fundraisers to become a Friend of Lough Derg and walk the 9km path taken by pilgrims in centuries gone by. Such a day is long overdue and is surely a positive sign of hope, in these days when all we hear about is recession and despair, that this ancient place of prayer on a small remote Island in Donegal is choosing 2009 to celebrate – celebrate being an oasis of grace in what has become a depressed society.  It is notable that Lough Derg has enjoyed a more than 10% increase in pilgrim numbers at this stage of the season.
This interesting walk is part of the Heritage Council’s Pilgrim Paths network. The walk follows the footsteps of the medieval pilgrim, not to Station Island where pilgrims go today, but to the threshold of the larger Saints Island, which acted as the gateway to Station Island several hundred years ago.
Entry forms and an information pack can be requested directly from Lough Derg or downloaded from www.loughderg.org  We know the people of Ireland will get behind this great cause and come out and support us.  Monsignor Richard Mohan commented,

“It should be a fun day out for all the family.  Not only then will this be a great fundraiser, but an opportunity to unite Friends of Lough Derg throughout the country on one day.”

So bring the family, bring a friend but most importantly bring a good pair of walking shoes!  If you can’t make it to Lough Derg for the National Day Walk-that’s okay there will be lots of opportunities to get involved. Unite with us in the spirit of Lough Derg in your own community.

The All-Ireland County Challenge!
For those who cannot make it to the Donegal Island, Lough Derg is challenging pilgrims or walking clubs to organise or take part in a similar distance in every county in Ireland!  The only requirement is that the walk takes place on the same day as the principal event at the Island shore.  County events will be supported by Lough Derg who will supply support materials and event packs.  Pilgrims can check out which counties have signed up so far online or by simply dropping into the FoLD office on the Island.

Fundraising makes all the difference
Connecting with and supporting pilgrims is the privilege of all who work at Lough Derg and we have created a strong community of helpful, caring people without whom we could not survive. Deborah Maxwell, Manager at Lough Derg commented,
“By taking part in the walk you are helping the Lough Derg Team make it happen.  The funds raised during the events have a direct impact on the working life of Lough Derg as well as the vision for the future”.
Want to know how you are helping, then pick up a copy of our “Funding the Future of Lough Derg” pack available from Lough Derg.  So let’s just hope we continue to have the good weather on this momentous day.
For more information, contact Deborah Maxwell, Manager call 071 986 1518 or email manager@loughderg.org www.loughderg.org


Notes to Editors:

Event details:
First ever National Lough Derg Day
Join us… Walk the Ancient Pilgrim Path Sunday 16th August 09
Start Time:  12 noon at the Visitors Centre, Lough Derg, Co Donegal
Entry Fee:  €20 / €10 for children
Join with us on this walk back in time around the perimeter of the Lough, or our challenge to pilgrims is to have a walk in every county in Ireland. Help us make it happen, then not only will this be a great fundraiser, but an opportunity
to unite Friends of Lough Derg throughout the country on one day.
Starting at the Visitor Centre, walkers can pick up a guidebook and follow the Pilgrim Markers to complete a journey of almost 9km.  It is an easy walk, mainly on forestry trail but the walker can enjoy stopping off to see Saint Davog’s Chair and Saint Brigid’s Well as well as getting a good view of where the bridge was which allowed pilgrims to cross over to the monastic Saints Island. Gulls of various kinds, black-backed, herring and the common gull are the most common wildbirds, but mallard and teal can be seen and the rare Greenland white-fronted goose can be spotted occasionally. A pair of swans are also a common site but they seem unable to protect their offspring from the local wildlife.
Entry forms and an information pack can be requested directly from Lough Derg or downloaded from www.loughderg.org

For further information or to register please call 071 986 1518 (from N.I. 028 6863 2391) or email manager@loughderg.org

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