News Opportunity Pilgrimage

Call for Papers – Pilgrimage and Flourish Symposium


Call for Papers - Pilgrimage and Flourish Symposium

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

Call for Papers
‘Pilgrimage and Flourishing’ Symposium:
The multi-layered benefits and challenges of pilgrimage
March 11-12, 2023
Venue: The Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy, Ireland

During the COVID-19 pandemic, pilgrimage tourism has flourished all over the world. New and revived pilgrimage routes have emerged in many destinations including Italy, Japan, Nepal, and the UK. Various forms of pilgrimages have been attracting secular tourists, such as the increasing numbers of South Korean tourists walking the Caminos in Spain. Virtual pilgrimages have become increasingly popular during the pandemic, which would sustain especially for those who have immobility due to disability/illness. Pilgrimage walks have been particularly popular during the pandemic as a means of improving mental, physical and psychological well-being, social interaction, self-reflection, spiritual recharge, etc.

We have also seen pilgrimages contributing to the well-being of local communities, by providing livelihoods and liveliness; and helping aid cultural revitalisation. Some new pilgrimages are intentionally created by authorities and charities in ways that benefit and engage with local communities. For example, the Ancient Connections project linking Pembrokeshire in Wales to County Wexford in Ireland, involves various community engagement activities, and collaborations with local artists. Although the benefits of pilgrimage tourism to local/rural communities have been recognised during the pandemic and beyond, there is a lack of awareness and support from governments and authorities for supportive infrastructure and marketing, as well as local communities, and small business involvement. There is a need for a collaborative effort, where various stakeholders actively communicate and help optimise the potential benefits of pilgrimage tourism in communities, especially in economically deprived and marginalised areas.
To explore the emerging phenomenon in pilgrimage tourism and its sustainable, resilient and regenerative futures, we like to invite you to a symposium, “Pilgrimage and Flourishing” where scholars, practitioners, government officials, creatives and other stakeholders will examine the current issues, share knowledge and insights, and discuss pilgrimage tourism’s economically, socially and environmentally sustainable futures.

We also like to discuss: what the practical steps are in setting up modern-day pilgrimage routes; how to create a working model between pilgrimage organisations and tourism agencies/local/central governments; how to navigate the difference between pilgrimage experience and “regular” tourism. How can we encourage as diverse a group of pilgrims as possible, both in religion or non-religion, racial and socio-economic backgrounds? What kinds of pilgrims do “we” want to see on the path, and how much should diversity feature in decision-making?

We invite contributions from a variety of disciplines and subject areas including visual and audio arts, movement practitioners, anthropology, human geography, sociology, psychology, cultural studies, economics, history, development studies, critical tourism studies, hospitality/event management, government and charity organisations. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Pandemic landscapes and pilgrimage tourism
  • Rural development through pilgrimage tourism after the pandemic
  • Community and cultural revitalisation through pilgrimage in rural areas
  • Pilgrimage and cultural/heritage/language revitalisation.
  • Pilgrimage tourism’s impact on the environment and the local economy
  • Poverty alleviation and pilgrimage tourism in marginalised areas
  • Rural entrepreneurship and small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • The greening of the economy and pilgrimage tourism
  • Proximity tourism and pilgrimage in rural areas
  • Main barriers to pilgrimage tourism and solutions (e.g. low-cost accommodation)
  • The changing nature of pilgrimage (a niche vs. ‘mainstream’ cultural tourism), and what it means for future development
  • Tensions and conflict among pilgrimage stakeholders
  • Creative responses to pilgrimage
  • Development of creative tools to enhance pilgrim experience
  • Co-creation in pilgrimage community projects (arts, festivals, etc.)

    We strongly encourage speakers to present in a creative way, which can include showing a short film, reading poetry, storytelling, movement/dancing, singing, Pecha Kucha, etc.

    Please send your abstract (no more than 250 words) to Jaeyeon Choe via email ( by the 15th of October. There is no registration fee for participating in this event but there is limited space. Thank you!

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: