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