St Declan’s Way is an ancient pilgrimage route in Ireland that follows in the footsteps of St Declan of Ardmore. Spanning over 100km, the trail connects Cashel in County Tipperary to the coastal town of Ardmore in County Waterford.
Overview of the Route
The route starts in Cashel, a historic town known for the Rock of Cashel and its medieval buildings. From here, the trail heads south through the lush Irish countryside, passing through small villages and ruins along the way. Highlights include:
- The medieval Cistercian abbey at Hore Abbey
- The 12th-century castle overlooking Lismore
- The historic cathedral in Ardmore, founded by St Declan in the 5th century
The landscape varies from rolling farmland to forest paths and open mountain ridges. Much of the trail follows quiet country roads, making it ideal for walking. The total length is around 115km and can be completed in 4-5 days.
When to Hike
The best times to hike St Declan’s Way are spring and autumn when the weather is mild. Summer can be popular with tourists. Allow extra time as some sections of the trail are prone to becoming overgrown.
What to Bring
St Declan’s Way requires no special equipment, just sturdy walking shoes, rain gear, snacks, and water. Pack light as accommodation is available in villages along the route. A hiking stick can help navigate muddy patches.
Pilgrim hostels and B&Bs in villages offer simple accommodation for hikers. Booking ahead is recommended during peak season. Camping is also possible, but facilities are limited.
Travelling between Stages
If splitting the hike over multiple trips, buses connect Cashel, Cahir, Lismore, and Dungarvan. Or leave a car at either end to shuttle between start and finish points.
Guide to the Route
Below is an overview of the stages along St Declan’s Way from Cashel to Ardmore:
Stage 1 – Cashel to Cahir (21km)
The first day heads through farmland, passing ruins at Athassel Priory before ending in the riverside town of Cahir.
Stage 2 – Cahir to Ardfinnan (19km)
Continuing south, the trail climbs into the Knockmealdown Mountains via forest tracks and remote bogland.
Stage 3 – Ardfinnan to Newcastle (16km)
Descend from the mountains back into farmland and the village of Newcastle.
Stage 4 – Newcastle to Piltown (21km)
Crossing over the River Suir, the trail leads through pastureland and the historic village of Piltown.
Stage 5 – Piltown to Lismore (14km)
The route follows the River Blackwater, leading to the heritage town of Lismore with its castle and cathedral.
Stage 6 – Lismore to Cappoquin (14km)
Passing through woodland, this peaceful section ends at Cappoquin on the River Blackwater.
Stage 7 – Cappoquin to Ardmore (9km)
The final stage crosses hills overlooking the coast before descending to the heritage town and ancient monastic site of Ardmore.
I hope this overview provides a helpful guide to planning a hike along St Declan’s Way.