The Irish Camino - The Tóchar (CPHT)
The Tóchar Phádraig is a ±3,500-year-old Irish walking pilgrimage from Rathcroghan (Cruachan Aí) to Croagh Patrick - the holiest mountain in Ireland. The 18km (112 mile) pilgrim's path can be traced back to a Bronze Age pilgrimage way (or older) that passes hundreds of sacred sites in County Roscommon, County Sligo, and County Mayo. The Christian and pre-Christian Tóchar winds by cashels, holy wells, fairy hills, standing stones, ancient ruins, abbeys, loughs, forests, bogs, and gorgeous mystical sites, ending in newly proposed UNESCO geopark in the Connemara: Joyce Country & Western Lakes Geopark.
According to legend, this pilgrim's path was walked by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD, though it had been utilized as a pilgrim's path and royal road in Connacht as far back as the Bronze Age. The Tóchar Phádraig is thus 500 years older than the Camino de Santiago, though fell into disuse post Cromwell era. The incredible Celtic revival helped to restore the first section (1/2-day walk) of the pilgrimage beginning in 1903 with the combined efforts of Fr Michael McDonald, Fr. John Healy, and Fr Angelus - establishing a 7km pilgrimage that yearly attracts over 100,000 pilgrims and hikers. The pilgrim's path was further extended in the late 1980's by Fr Frank Fahey to a length of 35km and beginning at Ballintubber Abbey. The establishment of the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail in 2009 added an additional 28km to the restoration of the tóchar, bringing the current trail start to the village of Balla, and providing an alternate route to the top of Croagh Patrick.
The proposed additional 110 km restoration of the entire tóchar from Rathcroghan is planned for 8 stages (8 walking days), which will be familiar for pilgrims who have walked the Camino. The 8 stages are:
Stage 1 - Rathcroghan to Ballinameen (pending) - 10.4 miles / 16.8 km
Stage 2 - Ballinameen to Monasteraden - 11.6 miles / 18.6 km
Stage 3 - Monasteraden to Urlaur Lough - 16.1 miles / 25.9 km
Stage 4 - Urlaur Lough to Knock Shrine - 13.6 miles / 21.9 km
Stage 5 - Knock Shrine to Facefield - 9.5 miles / 15.3 km
Stage 6 - Facefield to Ballintubber Abbey - 12.1 miles / 19.5 km
Stage 7 - Ballintubber Abbey to Aghagower - 9.3 miles / 15 km
Stage 8 - Aghagower to Croagh Patrick - 11.7 miles / 18.8 km
The entire 181km route was walked in 10-17 February of 2024 for the first time in total since possibly as far back as the 16th or 17th century. Additionally, a group of multi-faith pilgrims will be setting out on July 21st of 2024 to be the first pilgrim's group to walk the tóchar since then as well. It is is our mission to help restore this sacred pilgrim's way on behalf of future generations of pilgrims and the people of Connacht.
If you are interested in more information, please use the contact form below. Geospatial files are now available for download for both an eight day as well as a seven day pilgrimage from Rathcroghan to Croagh Patrick (via Castlerea). Use the contact form to request the geospatial files or click on the links below the YouTube video below on your smartphone to download the ArcGIS Field Maps application and the link for the routes.
Let’s Walk Together
Get in touch so we can share fellowship in July, for more information on walking on your own , or to get involved.
The YouTube video on the right was filmed on site while walking the Tóchar from February 10-17, 2024. The video provides a good coverage of the route walked. This is for the 8-day pilgrimage winding through St. Attracta's parish and Lough Gara.