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Lough Derg Pilgrim Path

Trail Overview Details

Grade: Easy
Format: Circular
Trail Quality: ***
County: Donegal
Category: Walking/Hiking Trails
Type: Pilgrim Path
Length (Kms): 12.00
Climb (m): 0
Estimated time: 2hr
Start point: Basilica Visitor Centre car park
Start point grid ref: H 091 732
End point: Basilica Visitor Centre car park
End point grid ref: H 091 732
Nearest town to start: Pettigoe
Ordnance survey map: OSI Discovery Series Sheet 11.
Facilities: At Start: In Basilica Visitor Centre car park At End: In Basilica Visitor Centre car park
Public transport: N/A
Map guide available: `Medieval Irish Pilgrim Paths No. 3 - Lough Derg - The shore by Saints Island, Co. Donegal


Yellow arrow on black background

Description of Trail

The old pilgrimage road to Lough Derg follows in the footsteps of the medieval pilgrims — not to Station Island where pilgrims normally go today, but to the threshold of the larger Saints Island, which acted as its gateway several hundred years ago. The focus of the legendary St Patrick’s Purgatory, Station Island, was a deep pit in which those who spent a day and a night would allegedly be purged of their sins, experiencing both the torments of the damned and the delights of the blessed. The walk starts at the visitor centre near the pier where boats bring pilgrims across to Station Island. Information about the pilgrimage may be obtained at the centre. At about 1.15km, there is a wooden fingerpost pointing down to the right along a stepped path to St Brigid’s Chair, a naturally weathered boulder of banded gneiss. A little further along the route, another sign points to St Daveoc’s Chair. Associated with a local hermit, the ‘chair’ is partially natural, but seems to have had one or two large blocks added to it, hinting that it may once have been a Bronze Age burial place. This is the point where the modern route joins the old pilgrimage road that would have brought the medieval pilgrims from Templecarne. At 1.75km, a fingerpost points down to St Brigid’s Well, marked by a modern metal cross which is festooned — like the bush above it — with pilgrims’ votive rags. The goal of the pilgrimage is the edge of the lake opposite Saints Island where one can still see the stones that formed the foundation of the wooden bridge that would have brought medieval pilgrims across to Station Island. The path continues full circle to the visitor centre where the walk began. See Heritage Council website http://www.heritagecouncil.ie/recreation/heritage-council-initiatives/the-pilgrim-paths/lough-derg/

Trail Reviews

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See Heritage Council website for information on this and other Pilgrim Paths.
***Dogs under effective control allowed***
Waymarked with black marker posts with yellow pilgrim and arrow with cross Harvesting work being carried out on first 300 metres of trail at present.

Trail management organisation contact details

Lough Derg

Trail Map


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