The Spiritual Trail will uncover and promote an unique and vast spiritual heritage located throughout Lough Erne with the aim of creating awareness, understanding, public access and digital visitor experiences.
The Lough Erne Spiritual Trail & Great Island Monasteries project focuses on the development of 11 key sites around Upper and Lower Lough Erne that will create a journey to celebrate the monastic & ecclesiastical history of this area.
For the visitor, the prospect of experiencing an ancient Spiritual Trail along the inland waterways throughout the island of Ireland makes it a truly unique heritage offering in Europe, with Heritage Lottery Funding central to realising this vision for Lough Erne.
The Historic Environment Division has identified 36 sites of spiritual/ecclesiastic significance and the concentration of sites of this character and calibre, focused as they are on a particular natural feature such as the Erne Waterway, is unique. These include monasteries founded on the islands and shores, with as many as twelve early church sites recorded near the Lough. While the islands may now seem remote, in early Christian times the Erne Waterway was a great highway with the island monasteries important ports of call not only for spiritual renewal but also hospitality. In the middle ages the Erne waterway was an important pilgrim route to St. Patrick’s Purgatory in Donegal and continues as such today.
This LELP project has further led to the initiation of a larger 350 km spiritual trail heritage programme by Waterways Ireland and 13 county representatives under the Leader Cooperation programme, thus extending the trail from the Erne Waterway in County Fermanagh, northwards to Co Donegal and southwards along the Shannon-Erne and Shannon Navigation to the Shannon estuary in Co Kerry.
On Monday 27th January 2020 in partnership with Waterways Ireland we hosted a community outreach event. The Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at Queen’s University Belfast provided an opportunity for the public to engage with their local history by sharing tales and folklore, as well as their memories and stories concerning selected spiritual sites around Lough Erne.
We are seeking to collect and collate oral histories and heritage of key sites found on the shores of Lough Erne.
For more information click here.