Ardmore, Co. Waterford is the most easterly parish in the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. It is well known as a beautiful seaside resort. It is the site of the monastery founded by St. Declan (an older contemporary of St. Patrick) in the late fifth century.
St Declan’s Patronal or “pattern” Day is the 24th July, and for many centuries, Ardmore has been a place of pilgrimage and prayer around that date. This year the Church of Ireland priest in charge, the Rev. Andrew Orr, and parishioners, joined the pilgrims for their festivities.
At midnight on 23rd July, about 150 people gathered at the Holy Well dedicated to Declan and at the ruins nearby, reputed to be Declan’s hermitage. Thousands of candles illuminated the darkness, as pilgrims made their way to the holy site and waited in anticipation. Prayers were said in English and Irish (still widely spoken in West Waterford) and pilgrims washed or drank from the well waters. Others walked around the site, in the traditional “rounds”, saying their own prayers. Many remarked on the profound sense of walking in the footsteps of many generations.
The next day, pilgrims walked part of St. Declan’s Way, a long distance path which runs from Cashel to Ardmore. Following the two hour walk, the Rev. Andrew Orr read at the Patronal festival Mass in St. Declan’s Church and joined the congregation for well deserved refreshments afterwards. Celebrations continued well into the night, and indeed will continue all weekend as the community Pattern festival continues with a programme of concerts, talks and festivities.