Columban Way Heritage Trail Launched

Tuesday 26th October 2021

A 20-mile section of the Columban Way Heritage Trail was launched in Comber on Saturday (23 October). Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the trail stretches from Comber to Bangor and is the first section of The Columban Way to be officially launched in Northern Ireland…

Columban Way Launch in Comber Square

The Columban Way forms part of the wider European 'Via Columbani' heritage trail. It traces the route from Mount Leinster to Bangor and across eight countries of Europe, finishing in Bobbio, Italy. 

The launch of the first section in Ireland will take place in County Carlow later this month. The ambition is to link both sections throughout the island to create an impressive cross-border, long-distance walking trail. 

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks, said: 

“Ards and North Down’s heritage is one that should be embraced by everyone. This 20-mile section of trail will encourage more people to learn about our history, including the impact the area had in a European context through the links with Columbanus. There are some spectacular views along the route too and I would encourage everyone to take some time out and visit the various points of interest along this section of the Columban Way.” 

Paul Mullan, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Northern Ireland, said: 

“We are delighted to support this project through the Community Heritage Fund. Our local places have become more important than ever throughout the pandemic, and through this fund, we hope to encourage people to get to know their local heritage that bit better. 

“We are grateful to the Department for Communities for providing the funding and we are delighted to fund a diverse range of projects which will make a huge impact on many communities across Northern Ireland.” 

As part of the project, waymarkers and interpretational panels have been installed along the route. They are combined with online resources such as audio content and online mapping as well as information detailing the many heritage sites. 

Those sites include the Somme Museum, Grey Point Fort, North Down Museum and Bangor Abbey. The route also takes in some of the area’s most stunning natural settings including Whitespots Country Park, Clandeboye Estate, and the North Down coast. 

Similar trails within the Columban Way umbrella are currently being established across Europe. They trace the footsteps of St. Columbanus, who was originally from Leinster. Once completed and linked, this European trail has the potential to become the second longest pilgrimage route in Europe, after the Camino de Santiago. 

For more information, go to Visit Ards and North Down.