Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Posts tagged ‘Via Francigena’

All Roads Lead to Rome

The three great pilgrimage routes in Christendom are Santiago de Compostella, Rome and Jerusalem. In 2010 myself and Ronan set out from Canterbury on the ancient Via Francigena, crossing south east England, France, Switzerland and Italy on our bikes, edging ever closer to the Eternal City.

Just discovered my old video files tonight!

The culmination fo that great pilgrimage was arriving into St Peters on our bikes!

Ronan is in Dubai now but there’s is no way I’m joining him to cycle to Mecca!



Via Appia Antica

Winter has well and truly arrived and the only cycling I am doing is in my dreams of fine summer days and bike touring! Here is a great shared memory from 2010 on the VIa Francigena with Ronan. Maybe there is another book to follow on from #CyclingSouthLeinster with the Collins Press!

Having cycled from Canterbury along the Via Francigena, we had one more hurdle to negotiate before our flight home. Getting to the airport at Campino with our bicycles.

We decided to depart from the Colliseum and pick up the historic Via Appia Antica, in the hope it would lead us in the general direction of the airport.

It was an incredible last day of cycling. We had the Via Appia to ourselves. It was easy imagine Roman Legions marching up and down this paved road, the earliest of the main arteries to service trade routes across the Empire and transport troops to the front lines. The forced march of prisoners back to the centre of the Empire, the roadside crucifixions of Spartans….out past the catacombs – was this the road the Apostle Peter, first Bishop of Rome, followed back to Rome and his eventual crucifixion?. Staggering history along every kilometre of this road.

Appia longarum… regina viarum“- the Appian Way the queen of the long roads”

As we made our way along the treelined lined cobbled road, a shepherd with his dogs herded his flock of long eared sheep over the roadside ditch and past us on his way to pastures new…. magical memories!

Hard to believe it was 2010 and my plan was to come back and continue to Brindisi with the final destination Jerusalem. One of these days I will get to take up where I left off and resume my pilgrimage to the Eternal City.


Columbanus of Carlow

Tomb of Columbanus, Bobbio, Italy

Tomb of Columbanus, Bobbio, Italy


At long last Carlow is recognising Columbanus as one of its own. Plans are afoot to commemorate the 1400 anniversary of the death of Columbanus in his reputed home place, Myshall.

Cardinal Tomás O Fiaich mentioned in his book on Columbanus that he is thought to have been born on the Carlow – Wexford border area. Myshall parish are set to honour the man with a series of events this summer.


Cover of Columbanus by Tomás ó Fiaich

Cover of Columbanus by Tomás ó Fiaich


Born around the year 543, Columbanus left his homeland with a handful of followers and established a succession of famous monasteries in Europe – Annegray, Fontaine, Luxeil and Bobbio.

I had the privilege in 2010 of cycling to Rome from Canterbury with my son Ronan following the ancient Via Francigena. We were acutely aware that we were probably the first Irish people to follow under our own steam, the journey of Columbanus.

Knowing the Carlow roots of Columbanus we diverted from the route to pay tribute to the great man at his tomb in beautiful rural Bobbio.

Bridge across the Trebbia at Bobbio

Bridge across the Trebbia at Bobbio


We picked up another ancient route, the Via d’egli Abati (The Abbots Way), across wild country side to rejoin the Francigena further south and on to Rome.

Hopefully 2014 will be the start of local recognition of Columbanus and his Carlow roots.

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