Irish travel: Follow the footsteps of St. Patrick around Ireland
Records show that Patrick favored Ireland’s west coast, particularly Galway and Mayo. Watching the sun go down on Galway Bay must have been a delight for Patrick, judging from the extent of his work in the county of Galway. Not only did he settle for a while at Moycullen, but he also built a church at Tuam. Nearby, in County Mayo, Patrick blazed a trail up atop a mountain overlooking Clew Bay near Westport. This site, now known as Croagh Patrick (Patrick’s Mountain), has become a primary place of pilgrimage for Christians. Each July thousands of participants climb “Patrick’s Path” to the summit of this beautiful quartzite ridge to pray.
As much as he loved the West, Patrick is most remembered for his travels around Ulster in Northern Ireland. It was at Armagh that he erected his principal church, giving the city a lasting prominence as the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. This fact is graphically illustrated today by Armagh’s two St. Patrick’s Cathedrals, one Protestant and the other Catholic, standing on adjoining hills. St. Patrick’s Trian, a visitor center in the heart of the city, brings all the history to life via walk-through exhibits and high-tech audio-visuals.
To round off a Patrick-inspired tour, all roads lead to County Down. It was here – amid the rolling hills, winding seacoast, and legendary Mountains of Mourne – that Ireland’s patron saint started his ministry and later spent his declining days. At Downpatrick, the quiet marketing town named in his honor, the cathedral churchyard reveals the journey’s end for the tireless traveler. Wedged among the elaborate graves, high crosses, effigies, and monuments, stands a lone granite boulder – etched simply with a cross and the name "Patric" in Irish-language lettering. Follow the pathway down from the churchyard to the St. Patrick Centre, a contemporary gathering place that presents an in-depth review of Patrick’s life and legends.