News Opportunity Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage Today – routes to flourishing communities and enterprise


Pilgrimage Today - routes to flourishing communities and enterprise

Ancient Connections is collaborating with the British Pilgrimage Trust to host a pilgrimage symposium 11/12 March 2023

Book your place via Eventbrite

This free symposium will celebrate pilgrimage and ask three vital questions: ‘How do you create a successful pilgrim route?’, ‘What’s in it for all of us?’ And ‘Is there a difference between a tourist and a pilgrim? The event marks the launch of the new Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way that will link Ferns in North Wexford with St Davids in Pembrokeshire and is part of the wider EU funded Ancient Connections project connecting these two regions through arts, heritage and tourism.

The programme begins on Saturday 11th March with a keynote speech given by Satish Kumar, a trustee of the British Pilgrimage Trust. Kumar undertook a peace pilgrimage from India to Moscow, London, Paris, and America in 1962 and he has subsequently devoted his life to campaigning for ecological regeneration, social justice and spiritual fulfilment. Now in his 80s, Kumar is an inspirational speaker, teacher and author. This is followed by an action packed day, combining chaired sessions as well as inclusive discussion forums. A representative of Visit Wales and Andrew Smith and Ciara Byrne of Fáilte Ireland will speak about spiritual tourism in Wales and Ireland. Other speakers include Ruben Heijloo, Director of Nordic Pilgrim, Very Reverend Dr Sarah Rowland-Jones, Dean of St Davids Cathedral and John G O’Dwyer, Chairman of Pilgrim Paths Ireland. There will be opportunities to explore pilgrimage practice as well as time to chat and network with other attendees. The second day on Sunday 12th March is an optional extra, where participants will have the chance to walk some of the new pilgrim route in Wexford or participate in a pilgrimage singing workshop and reflect on ideas emerging from the day before.

It is expected that the symposium will appeal to and attract a wide range of people from different backgrounds including local businesses in the hospitality, tour guide and accommodation industries, spiritual tourism specialists and policy makers, academics and researchers, local government representatives and community members

A broad spectrum of stakeholders and partners have been involved in shaping the event programme, including the British Pilgrimage Trust who are leading on the development of the new pilgrim route along with Pilgrim Paths Ireland, Journeying and Guided Pilgrimage. Staff at St Davids Cathedral & Diocese, who are celebrating Year of Pilgrimage in 2023, have also been key stakeholders in the process. A number of individual specialists have also contributed such as Bernadette Flanagan: Associate Professor in Spirituality South East Technological University (Wexford), Christopher Catling: Chief Executive of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and Chair of Welsh Places of Worship and Jaeyeon Choe, Lecturer in Tourism and Events at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The symposium is free and includes lunch and optional dinner but not accommodation or travel. Booking is on a first come first served basis.

Full Programme

Day 1 – 11th March 2023




Opening Note / Welcome Remarks

A representative from the Ancient Connections project


Keynote Speech (30 mins talk / 15 mins Q & A)

Name: Satish Kumar

Title: The importance of Pilgrimage

End with a minute’s silence


Movement/stretching/’Get to know each other’ session – Bonnie Boux & Suzi MacGregor – Creative Camino Artists.


Tea/Coffee Break – 25 mins


Question 1: How do you create a successful pilgrim route? – best practice from Ireland and Britain


Pilgrimage in Ireland


Pilgrim Paths in Ireland – the 21st century Revival – John G O’Dwyer, Pilgrim Paths Ireland

Bernadette Flanagan

Southeast Technological University – findings from interviews with pilgrimage tour operators in Ireland.

Sean O Nuallain

University of Ireland  – A new path for Celtic spirituality?

Facilitator: Nessie Reid

10 min presentation followed by 15 min Q&A


Pilgrimage & Tourism

Promoting Pilgrimages through Food Experiences in Rural Communities 

Daniel Olsen, Brigham Young University, USA

Strategies for attracting visitors and pilgrims for communities and church institutions

Anne Bailey, University of Oxford

Materiality, Meaning and Practice: a visual essay of St David’s Well, Co. Wexford, Samantha Morris, TU Dublin, Ireland

Facilitator: Jaeyeon Choe

10 min presentations followed by 15 min Q&A


Pilgrimage in Wales

A year of pilgrimage, Dean Sarah Rowland Jones, St Davids Cathedral

Investing in the future of pilgrimage, Siôn Rhys Evans, Bangor Diocese

Community Co-Creation in the St Thomas Way project.

Professor Catherine Clarke, University of London (St Thomas Way project director)

Facilitator: Iain Tweedale

10 min presentations followed by 15 min Q&A


1 hr Facilitated Session (World Café Model?) – answering above question

·        Challenge 1

·        Challenge 2

·        Challenge 3

·        Challenge 4

·        Challenge 5

·        Groups spend 10 minutes at each table


15 min Facilitated Feedback


Buffet Lunch – 50 mins 



Question 2: What’s in it for all of us? Benefits of pilgrim routes for local communities, accommodation and hospitality providers, local authorities and tourism agencies. How do businesses attract pilgrims in terms of amenities, facilities, atmosphere, products and marketing.

Panel discussion: Spiritual Tourism in Wales and Ireland 40 mins

Visit Wales / Fáilte Ireland

Confirmed: Andrew Smith   Fáilte Ireland Product Development Officer. Ciara Byrne CP&I

Chair: Andrew Campbell Professor of Practice in Tourism UWTSD, Chair of Welsh Government Ministerial Advisory Board for Economy and former Chair of Wales Tourism Alliance

Intro by Andrew Campbell, 2 x 10 min presentations followed by 15 min panel discussion


Business Toolkit

Dawn Champion, British Pilgrimage Trust

Tips on how to adapt your business to meet pilgrim needs such as accommodation and hospitality, trade and products.

Facilitator: Dawn Champion

Workshop style session


Pilgrimage & Community

Roles of Festivals for Promoting Scottish Pilgrimage, Martin Robertson, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland

Eventization of Religious Heritage in Ireland, Ruth Dowson, Leeds Beckett University, England

Economic Impact of Religious Pilgrimage, Razaq Raj, Leeds Beckett University, England

Facilitator: Kevin Griffin

10 minute presentations and 15 minute Q&A


Models for Guided Pilgrimage

Iain Tweedale, Journeying

Ruben Heijloo, Nordic Pilgrim

Phil Brennan, Waterford Camino Tours

Facilitator: Nessie Reid

5 minute presentations, 20 minute facilitated discussion and 10 minute Q&A


Question 3: To be a Pilgrim! Is there a difference between a tourist and a pilgrim? What individual benefits are there from going on pilgrimage and how and when do transformative experiences occur on journeys?



Pilgrimage & Transformation

The Intimate Relationship between Pilgrimage and Tourism: Comparing International Shrines and Pilgrimage Routes

John Eade, University of Roehamptom, London

What Does Modern Spirituality Seek in Ireland, Wales and their ‘Celtic’ Connections? Jonathan M. Wooding, Wales

Motivations for undertaking pilgrimage, Eleanor O’Keefe. National Centre for Social Research

Facilitator: Kevin Griffin

10 min presentations followed by 10 min Q&A


Digital Pilgrims

Pererin Wyf / I am a Pilgrim – presentation about artist Rowan O’Neil and Span Arts project connecting pilgrims in Wexford, Pembrokeshire and  across the Celtic Diaspora.

Pilgrimage and Digitalisation

Jaffer Idris, Sheffield Hallam University, England

Problems and Pitfalls of Using Digital Innovation for Pilgrimage, Michael Di Giovine, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA

Facilitator: Nessie Reid

10 min presentations followed by 15 min Q&A


How to be a pilgrim

Experiential workshop-walk led by British Pilgrimage Trust director, Guy Hayward

Performing ritual in the landscape, Nick Mayhew-Smith, Roehampton University


Facilitator: Guy Hayward

Walk to Enniscorthy Cathedral

45 mins


Short break


Fishbowl – antidote to panel discussions.

This will be an opportunity for everyone to discuss the 3 main questions and any others that arise on the day. It will be facilitated and be fed by questions gathered by note takers from each of the sessions.

Dinner table set up, people can choose to participate in the discussion or sit back and listen. 8-10 people will be invited to sit around the table to start the discussion.

Facilitator:  Nessie Reid


Free time




Poetry reading, Creative Camino Artist Performance & Film Screening

Grahame Davies – poetry reading

Creative Camino artists joint performance: Bonnie Boux, Kate Powell, Ailsa Richardson & Suzi MacGregor

Film screening Title of film: Filmmaker: Will Philpin of ‘When it Rains Creative’

Facilitator: Ruth Jones


Day 2 – 12th March 2023


10:00 – 12:00

Option 1 – Pererin Wyf Singing Workshop – Oportunity to participate in Rowan O’Neil/Span Art’s cross-border project and learn the hymn Pererin Wyf.  Participants to include exchange visitors from Wales (c. 8 people including workshop leader Molara Awen),  exchange trip hosts Rachel and John and the North Wexford traditional singers.  Ferns choir Chord on Blues and anyone else from the symposium who wishes to attend. There will be an opportunity to record your song and add it to the digital map and/or visit Wales and sing the song as part of the Ancient Connections finale event in the Bishop’s Palace St Davids on 29th May 2023.

Option 2 – Walking part of the Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way

Details TBC 


Lunch  – people will need to pay for their own lunch 

14:00 – 15:30

2-3pm Sum-up / facilitated networking session – tbc

Reflective Poetry Writing – opportunity for participants to feedback feeling and reflections on the day. 

Book your place via Eventbrite


Travel and accommodation is the responsibility of attendees. Below is some information to assist with this:


By Hire Car from Dublin Airport to Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy

Link to Google Maps directions

By Bus from Dublin Airport

Bus Eireann (Expressway Route 2) > Dublin Airport to Wexford (with stop in Enniscorthy) Pick up is Red Zone 13 Stop 9

Wexford Bus Route 740 > Dublin Airport to Wexford (with stop in Enniscorthy) Timetable Home – Wexford Bus the 740 Route, Pick up is at Coach Park, Zone 16 (see map

By Train

Sample journey from Dublin (Connolly) train station, to Enniscorthy. While it is a more comfortable journey than the bus, it is harder to get to the train station, which is in Dublin City centre, for the Wexford/Rosslare line (with a stop in Enniscorthy).!P|TP!histId|1!histKey|H692786

Ferry from UK

Fishguard Rosslare route – Stena line

Dublin – Holyhead route – Stena line


Most attendees will be staying at Riverside Park Hotel & Leisure Club

The Promenade, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Y21 T2F4

Other accommodation in Enniscorthy

Treacy’s Hotel

Wexford town accommodation (Note: 20mins drive to Enniscorthy)

Clayton Whites Hotel

Crown Quarter

Ferrycarrig Hotel

Maldron Hotel

Talbot Hotel

Riverbank House Hotel

Whitford House Hotel

For other accommodation options please go to Visit Wexford 

News Pilgrimage

Wexford – Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way


Wexford Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way

The British Pilgrimage Trust have formed a partnership with Pilgrim Paths of Ireland, Journeying and Guided Pilgrimage to manage the new pilgrim route between St Davids, Pembrokeshire and Ferns in County Wexford. The pilgrim route will be the primary legacy of the Ancient Connections project.

Guy Hayward, Director of The British Pilgrimage Trust said:

“The British Pilgrimage Trust aims to facilitate grass roots activity around Britain by offering our expertise for free to all those that need it, and there is so much more of this local community activity now that they are seeing the attractive potential of pilgrimage for the home area that they know and love. We also want more people to actually walk the routes in practice, not just as a historical concept, and that is why we are so excited about this project, creating an old route as new with all the infrastructure that a modern pilgrim needs. Coming together and working with all these different partners – Pilgrim Paths Ireland, Journeying, Guided Pilgrimage, Ancient Connections – who are all passionate about forming a pilgrimage connection between Ireland and Wales, is going to lead to the kind of innovation and freshness of approach that is only possible when different cultures come into contact and share their wisdom. We are in the earliest stage of this project, but I can already tell that we are going to create something very beautiful together that bridges both sides of the Celtic Sea, and something which so many will enjoy and find meaning through for generations to come”.

Working alongside the British Pilgrimage Trust and representing the Irish interest in the project is Pilgrim Paths Ireland. Chairman John G O’Dwyer said: “he was delighted to be part of the team tasked with developing a pilgrim route as part of the Ancient Connections project that will commemorate the 6th-century journey of St Aidan to study under St David in Wales.”  The project will, he believes, revive long-standing links between communities in Pembrokeshire and Wexford by drawing on a common heritage to actively share local knowledge, experience and skills. “The new pilgrim route should mean much additional spending to Wexford and Pembrokeshire and draw attention to the rich heritage both areas have to offer to visitors,” 

Also joining the team will be two West Wales based not-for-profit companies. Journeying have been taking small groups of pilgrims on guided walking tours to the more off-the-beaten-track parts of Britain and Ireland for over thirty years. Guided Pilgrimage offer Celtic pilgrimages of one day or multi day duration that create a space for people to reconnect body and spirit through the wild and beautiful Celtic landscapes.

Following community consultation and market research, the name of the route will be Wexford – Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way. Cardiff based destination marketing specialists Heavenly, along with graphic design company Orchard have created a unique brand for the route that will inspire visitors from the UK, Ireland and abroad to take up the pilgrim’s mantle and have a potentially life-changing experience. Branding will feature on route way-markers, maps and leaflets as well as pilgrim passports and a pilgrim app.

The route will be open to the public in 2023 for both guided and self-guided tours. There are a number of opportunities to take part in one day pilgrimage events on the new route. 

For more information visit:

This is a route in development and is currently going through the Sport Ireland accreditation process. Although some sections of the route are on existing accredited Wexford Walking Trails (Ferns Village, Oulart Hill, Three Rocks Trail and Carne to Rosslare), all other parts of Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way route have yet to be accredited. Accordingly, Wexford County Council and its route development partners do not accept responsibility and are not liable for any loss, damage or injury which may arise and all users and participants should take all necessary care to satisfy themselves of the suitability and safety of the route.

Project Outputs: Two new FTE jobs. New pilgrim route between Ferns, Wexford and St Davids, Pembrokeshire


News Pilgrimage

Creative Camino Artist Pilgrims Selected

Creative Camino Artist Pilgrims Selected

Ancient Connections is delighted to have commissioned four performing artists to join the Creative Camino pilgrimage (dates tbc). These artists will make the journey from Ferns to St Davids over eight days, taking in some significant sites along the way. The artists will be responding creatively to the experience through performances in Ferns, Fishguard and in St Davids.

The artists from Pembrokeshire are Ailsa Richardson, a multi-disciplinary artist working in movement, song, poetry and music, and Suzi McGregor, a musician, actor and singer song-writer. On the Wexford side joining the group will be Bonnie Boux, a dancer specialising in burlesque and community dance and Kate Powell, a multi-instrumentalist musician and street performer. 

The artists will be joined by four community members who have yet to be selected and the whole group will be led by guides from Journeying and Wexford Trails. The trip promises to be a fun, creative and transformative experience and there will be opportunities for members of the public to join for a day or half day.


Pilgrimage overview – rationale for a new route

Arts Project

Pilgrimage overview - rationale for a new route

Pilgrimage is an ancient concept; stretching back through history across cultural and religious boundaries, historical and economic spectrums, regardless of race or gender. It has been argued that pilgrimage fulfils a basic human need to reconnect to oneself through the simple process of putting one foot in front of another on the destination to a sacred or special place.

Ancient Connections is rediscovering historic links and ancient stories that connect the communities and culture of North Pembrokeshire with their counterparts on the East coast of Wexford. In particular, it is exploring the link between the city of Saint Davids and the village of Ferns, two significant sites associated with the early Celtic church. St Aidan studied in Wales with St David and after this he journeyed to Wexford where he set up his own monastery in Ferns.

St Davids has been a place of pilgrimage since the middle ages and still is. People are drawn to the area for many reasons for refreshment of body, mind and soul. It is recognised as a special place, a ‘thin’ place in Celtic terms, a place where hearts are opened and emotions are touched.

Modern day pilgrimage isn’t necessarily religious or even spiritual but an opportunity for reflection, connection and discovery; perhaps finding a new sense of purpose, direction and wellbeing. Pilgrimage in modern times is becoming increasingly popular with TV programmes such as Pilgrimage; The Road to Rome and The Road to Santiago. The Santiago de Compostella pilgrim trail, which was boosted through EU funding in 1987, has been a major success story with numbers increasing from under 3,000 per year to over 300,000 now.

A New Route - Wexford Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way

2023 will commemorate 900 years since Pope Callixtus II declared two pilgrimages to St Davids equal to one to Rome. This date and the Ancient Connections project are a launch pad from which to start building a pilgrimage route on both sides of the Irish Sea. Could pilgrimage/transformational tourism be as successful in Wexford and Pembrokeshire as it has been in Northern Spain?

Ancient Connections is working with the British Pilgrimage Trust to create the new route. In May 2022, the trailblazing Creative Camino pilgrimage took place, an experimental journey led by guides from Journeying based in Pembrokeshire and Wexford Trails. Traveling with them were a group of artists and community pilgrims, who responded creatively to the experience. 

The route has now been mapped and will be open to the public in 2023 for guided and self-guided tours. Currently, there are opportunities to trial the route on day trips led by experienced guides. Visit the website for more information on the route and how you can get involved

Date: Ongoing

Arts Pilgrimage

Creative Camino

Arts Project

Creative Camino

Ancient Connections is undertaking an experimental and creative pilgrimage from Ferns to St Davids in May 2022 – the Creative Camino. Four artists, four community members, a travel writer and a filmmaker will make the eight day journey on foot from Ferns to St Davids starting on 1st May and ending on 8th May. A documentary film will tell the story of their journey and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

The artists are: Bonnie Boux, Kate Powell, Suzi MacGregor and Ailsa Richardson

The project is teaming up with Journeying, a Celtic focused walking and pilgrimage guide company based in Pembrokeshire who are working closely with The British Pilgrimage Trust on the development of the new pilgrim route from Ferns to St Davids, which will be the main legacy of the Ancient Connections project and will be launched officially in 2023.

2023 marks the 900th anniversary of the granting of a privilege to St Davids by Pope Callixtus II, who declared that two pilgrimages to St Davids Cathedral were equal to one journey to Rome. It seems a fitting year to launch the new route! 

The route will encourage stronger links between these two Celtic regions, as well as attract overseas visitors in a sustainable form of cross-border tourism. 

 The British Pilgrimage Trust have created a mailing list for those interested in keeping up to date about the developments of this new route. Click on the button below to join.

The Journey

The pilgrimage sets off with  community celebrations and a world premiere performance of a traditional Celtic music piece (composed especially for the event). A fitting festive send-off for a group of pilgrims. Pilgrims will then make their way to Rosslare via Oulart, Olygate and Our Lady’s Island where they will take a ferry to Fishguard. Finally, they will walk the Pembrokeshire coast path along with some inland pathways.  They will reach their destination, the small city of St Davids, on Sunday 8th May where they will be given a glorious Pembrokeshire welcome. The pilgrims will be joined by a giant St David puppet who will lead the travellers into the grounds of St Davids Cathedral with a special choir procession. A spectacle to behold! The event is led by Small World Theatre . The artists will present an improvised performance to share the story of their journey and experiences along the way.

Media and Documentary

Throughout the journey, the experiences of the pilgrims as well as the beautiful scenery, heritage sites and wildlife will be documented by Llif:Flow a digital media company based in Angelsey. The stills and footage will be used to promote the project and new pilgrimage route concept across social media platforms and a short documentary film has been commissioned as promotion and legacy.

Follow the story!

Follow the pilgrims journey on our Instagram page which will be updated daily

Date: May 2022

Funded by: Ancient Connections

In Partnership with: Journeying 

Project Outputs: 
Artist performances 
A Documentary film
Short media content for social media and still photos

Learn More at: