The Tóchar Phádraig is one of Ireland’s five medieval pilgrim paths for which walkers, on completion of the five paths, receive the Teastas Oilithreachta (Pilgrim Certificate) from Ballintubber Abbey.
Last year I finally completed the five paths that I had begun in 2016, culminating not with the Tóchar Phádraig, as most people would, but with St. Finbarr’s way. Both of these routes were probably the most challenging walks on the list, the Tóchar Phádraig finishing with a climb over the lower part of Croagh Patrick.
I walked the Tóchar Phádraig on Reek Sunday. I had previously climbed Croagh Patrick on two occasions, but that Sunday I found the base of the mountain extremely difficult to maintain footing on, the shingle giving way easily underfoot and causing me to slip and slide en route to the bottom. Possibly it was because I was tired from the ten hour walk to get that far, or maybe it was due to the thousands of people who’d made their way up and down the mountain all day. The mountain rescue team certainly had their work cut out from them though, and in the time it took me to cross from their base to the front of the mountain, they had escorted and stretchered no less than six people down to safety. Nevertheless I made it down to Campbell’s bar at the foot of the mountain where I enjoyed a drink or two with my pilgrimage buddies before getting on the bus back to Ballintubber.
It’s well worth spending a bit of time in the grounds of Ballintubber Abbey before starting out on the Tóchar Phádraig, or even taking a couple of hours the day before to relax and see the beautiful work that has been carried out on the Stations of the Cross in the grounds of the Abbey. I took a few photographs of them the evening before I walked the pilgrim route.
I have no photographs of the pilgrimage route itself. Unfortunately my phone died a death shortly into the walk. Maybe it’s just as well as I had a day with no technology and was able to experience everything with no distractions from the digital world.
I was lucky once again with accommodation for this one. I stayed in the Lakes Wellness B&B run by Barbara and Sean. The B&B is in a beautiful, quiet location and Barbara could not do enough for I and the other walkers who were staying there. Freshly baked bread is available daily, the cooked breakfast was delicious, and on returning late from the pilgrimage walk, Barbara ensured that we were well fed that evening, and made us hot Irish whiskeys to warm us up.
This is a B&B I would definitely return to if I was holidaying in the area again.