Camino from Dundrum to Comber via Downpatrick gets a step closer
A grant of £5,000 has been announced from the David Cross Foundation to produce a business case with costings to identify and develop the Columban Way from Dundrum to the Saint Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick and from there to Comber by repurposing and upgrading sections of the Ulster Way abandoned in the 1990’s.
Columbanus was one of the best-known of hundreds of Irish Monks following in the footsteps of Saint Patrick bringing Christianity, literacy and learning to Central and Northern Europe in the 6th Century. It took Saint Columbanus 15 years to complete the journey from Bangor to Bobbio and he travelled more than 4,000 miles mostly on foot.
This project is being led by Downpatrick Councillor Cadogan Enright and Charlie Reid of Bangor who both write extensively on walks around Ireland and are committee members of Friends of Columbanus. They are supported by local Ardglass expert on walking trails, Duane Fitzsimons.
Cllr Cadogan Enright said: “The Columban Way forms part of the wider European ‘Via Columbani’ heritage trail supported and promoted by the Council of Europe. It traces the route from Mount Leinster to Bangor County Down through eight European countries to Bobbio in Italy.
“It is instructive to see how rapidly other Countries have rolled out sections of the trail since 2015 and the 1400th anniversary of Columbanus. Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany and the Low Countries have demonstrated the ability to deliver that we can learn from locally.
“Great credit needs to go to Ards and North Down Council who have already delivered 20 miles of walk as far South as Comber. This 20-mile section of trail is designed to encourage more people to learn about the history of North Down and Ards including the impact the area had in a European context through the links with Columbanus,” said Councillor Enright
Charlie Reid who walked with Cllr Enright on the Dundrum leg of the propose Camino said: said: “I was pleased to represent our committee at the launch of the first 30 kilometre section in the Republic from Mount Leinster took place in County Carlow last month. Carlow have a clear ambition to link their Council to sections throughout the island to create an impressive cross-border, long-distance walking trail.
“At the moment we are working with Jim Shannon MP and Ards and North Down Borough Council on the sections between Comber and Killinchy and then on to Killyleagh.
“Our big challenge will be to engage with Newry Mourne and Down District Council to deal with huge huge gaps in the Saint Patrick’s and Ulster Ways.”
Cllr Enright added: “These should link Downpatrick to Dundrum and Killyleagh but still have not yet done so. This project provides us with access to International funding to finally build out this route and create a unique tourism asset.”