Lough Derg Pilgrim Path

County Donegal
2 reviews
Grade Easy
Length 12 km
Am 2 hours
Format Loop
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
Basilica Visitor Centre car park
Finish Point
Basilica Visitor Centre car park
Nearest Town to Start Pettigoe
Grid Ref. H 091 732
Lat. and Long. 54.606608, -7.85691

The old pilgrimage road to Lough Derg follows in the footsteps of the medieval pilgrims €” not to Station Island where pilgrims normally go today, but to the threshold of the larger Saints Island, which acted as its gateway several hundred years ago. The focus of the legendary St Patrick's Purgatory, Station Island, was a deep pit in which those who spent a day and a night would allegedly be purged of their sins, experiencing both the torments of the damned and the delights of the blessed. The walk starts at the visitor centre near the pier where boats bring pilgrims across to Station Island. Information about the pilgrimage may be obtained at the centre. At about 1.15km, there is a wooden fingerpost pointing down to the right along a stepped path to St Brigid's Chair, a naturally weathered boulder of banded gneiss. A little further along the route, another sign points to St Daveoc's Chair. Associated with a local hermit, the €˜chair' is partially natural, but seems to have had one or two large blocks added to it, hinting that it may once have been a Bronze Age burial place. This is the point where the modern route joins the old pilgrimage road that would have brought the medieval pilgrims from Templecarne. At 1.75km, a fingerpost points down to St Brigid's Well, marked by a modern metal cross which is festooned €” like the bush above it €” with pilgrims' votive rags. The goal of the pilgrimage is the edge of the lake opposite Saints Island where one can still see the stones that formed the foundation of the wooden bridge that would have brought medieval pilgrims across to Station Island. The path continues full circle to the visitor centre where the walk began. See Heritage Council website http://www.heritagecouncil.ie/recreation/heritage-council-initiatives/t€¦

Maps and other information

Trail Management


At Start: Car parking in Basilica Visitor Centre car park At End: Car parking in Basilica Visitor Centre car park

***Dogs under effective control allowed***
Waymarked with black marker posts with yellow pilgrim and arrow with cross Harvesting work being carried out on first 300 metres of trail at present.

Map Guides

Map Guides

`Medieval Irish Pilgrim Paths No. 3 - Lough Derg - The shore by Saints Island, Co. Donegal

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheet 11
2 trail reviews
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Maureen from Donegal

I have completed the Pilgrim Path on a number of occasions and each time it is more breathtaking than the previous. Quite a lot of work has been carried out in recent months including the provision of seating, signposting, information boards. The pathway is maintained to a high standard. Definitely one to return to time and time again.

Ðawn from Carlow

Myself and my dog completed this loop a couple of days ago (late Dec). The info points on the trails say not to bring dogs on this walk, but this site says dogs are allowed if under effectual control.

The walk itself was well marked, with some lovely views over the lake. In some parts the ground was very slippy underfoot due to recent rains and moss/algae growth. There are a number of gentle inclines on this walk, but nothing challenging.

I'd love to return in spring to do this route again, as I imagine it's beautiful then.

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