A Cork walk has been included in the country's first ever fully-guided pilgrim journey which will take place next month.
St Finbarr's Pilgrim Walk goes from the Top of the Rock in Drimoleague to Gougane Barra.
It is one of five ancient routes which have just been included on the new Irish Pilgrim Passport - running during Heritage Week from August 19 to 26.
The other walks include Tochar Phadraig in Mayo, St Kevin’s Way in Wicklow, Cosán na Naomh in Kerry, and Cnoc na dTobar in Kerry.
Walkers can now collect a special pilgrim stamp at the end of each walk before being awarded the full passport when they arrive at Ballintubber Abbey after completing Tochar Phadraig in Mayo.
Knowledgeable local guides will lead each walk, allow time for personal contemplation, outline the story of the route and explain how medieval penitents coped with their arduous journeys.
David Ross owner of the Top of the Rock Pod Park, which is located at the start point for St Finbarr’s Path, welcomed the move.
“We are blessed to have such a wonderfully scenic and historic path here in West Cork. People are coming from across Ireland for our walk on August 22, but the event, which runs concurrently with a unique peat art exhibition, is proving hugely for local people as well," he said.
Chairman of Pilgrim Paths Ireland, John G O’Dwyer, said the medieval pilgrimage was originally a journey combining prayer and sacrifice - with an element of physical discomfort.
"Recently, there has been a renewed interest in following the footsteps of these pilgrims past and over the last number of years Ireland’s penitential trails have echoed to ever increasing footfall," he said.
"This pilgrim journey is not just for those who enjoy exploring Ireland’s ancient tracks, but also the growing numbers seeking to escape the daily grind of life and take time out to reflect and meditate a little while enjoying the outdoors”.
Advance booking is essential and must be made individually for each pilgrim path. More information on how to book can be found on www.pilgrimpath.ie.