[9 March 2018] Pilgrimage and the Evolution of Spiritual Tourism

 Spiritual Tourism Conference Logo



In an exciting new collaboration the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE) in Dublin and the Department of Languages, Tourism, and Hospitality at the School of Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) are organising a conference on ‘Pilgrimage and the Evolution of Spiritual Tourism’ for .Friday, 9th March 2018, from 9.45-16.30 (registration at 9am). It will be held in the Tourism and Leisure Education Building, Cork Rd Campus, WIT, Waterford. Waterford is a modern cosmopolitan city steeped in history, heritage and culture with a unique Viking quarter. 

The conference has been designed in a spirit of international cooperation and collegiality in the interdisciplinary field of the study of spirituality and tourism. 

Keynote speakers:

Dr Dee Dyas, Centre for Pilgrimage Studies Director, York University and Principal Investigator, AHRC ‘Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals, Past and Present’ project;

Dr Stefano Dominioni, Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes, Luxembourg, who oversees the certification by the Council of Europe of cultural routes in the field of European heritage;

John G O’Dwyer, author of Pilgrim Paths in Ireland: From Slieve Mish to Skellig Michael (Collins Press, 2017).

There will also be panels of short papers as well as posters and stands. For information about the panels of papers see under ‘Programme’ on the conference website: www.spireconf.com

  • Why have human beings across otherwise diverse cultures and periods so often been inclined to identify places as special and map meaning on to them?
  • *How is the notion of pilgrimage prompting us to reconceptualise our understanding of spiritual tourism?
  • How will integrating the current interest in pilgrimage into tourism initiatives challenge and re-invent current practice?
  • What new research and practice frontiers lie ahead as we contemplate the next decade of pilgrimage tourism?

Draft Time-Table

9.00 Registration of those who have prepaid + conference pack & meal ticket / tea – coffee

9.45 Welcome: Dr. Richard Hayes, VP for Strategy and Institutional Transformation (WIT), Prof. Bernadette Flanagan, Chair of SpIRE,  and Ray Cullen, Head of Dept of Languages, Tourism, and Hospitality, WIT

10.00 Deirdre Ni Chinneide: Reflective Setting Opening of the Conference

10.10 Opening keynote – Dr. Dee Dyas: “Connecting with the Sacred: Pilgrimage, the senses, and spiritual encounter, past and present” / Chair: Dr. Michael O’Sullivan

10.55 Q & A

11.10 Stretch break

11.15 2nd keynote: Dr. Stefano Dominioni: “The Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: Experiencing religious heritage through cultural tourism”/ Chair: Dr. Bernadette Masterson

12.00 Q & A

12.15 Lunch / Visiting stands – See conference website, www.spireconf.com under Vendors, for the list of stands

13.30 Parallel sessions of short papers: 4 concurrent sessions with panels of 3 for each session – See conference website, www.spireconf.com under ‘Programme’  for the speakers and their topics:

15.00 3rd keynote – John O’Dwyer: “The Re-awakening of the Irish Pilgrim Paths” / Chair: Dr. Noel Keating

15.45 Plenary – Future directions: Bernadette Flanagan & Pat Lynch

16.15/16.30 End

You are warmly invited to participate in this conference. 

You are kindly requested to bring the conference to the attention of other interested parties.

There will also be an optional gathering the day before the conference to walk medieval Waterford and to share a meal and music. We will gather at The Granville Hotel at 3.45pm. The walk will start at 4pm in the undercroft of the Medieval Museum, Cathedral Square. The meal and music will follow at Jack Meade’s pub.

Both the conference on March 9 and the pre-conference on March 8 are booked out!

Organising Committee: Dr. Bernadette Flanagan, Dr. Michael O’Sullivan, Ray Cullen, Dr. Patrick Lynch, Dr. Michael Howlett, Dr. Bernadette Masterson, and Dr. Noel Keating

For further information, please see the conference website at www.spireconf.com and contact mosullivan@spiritualityinstitute.ie; bflanagan@wit.ie; nkeating@eircom.net; or dettemasterson@gmail.com

For reports before and afterwards on this historic ‘Pilgrimage and the Evolution of Spiritual Tourism’ conference on 9 March 2018, see

Ireland’s first ‘Spiritual Tourism’ conference

  • https://jesuits.eu/news/635-ireland-s-first-spiritual-tourism-conference?utm_source=newsletter_106&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=jcep-april-2018
  • https://www.catholicireland.net/category/news/
  • The Council of Europe Newsletter includes a write up of the SpIRE conference on ‘Pilgrimage and Spiritual Tourism’ with Waterford Institute of Technology in March. The Newsletter also carries the info. that the Holy See has now decided to join the European Partial Agreement about Cultural Routes. See https://www.coe.int/en/web/cultural-routes/newsroom and scroll down to the item about the conference, including ‘read more’ which has a photo with the MA spirituality banner and the SpIRE banner in the background.