There is a movement of people who wish to put the Saint back into St Patrick's day.

At St Patrick's first church in Saul where there is a newish Bishop Rev David A McClay, with one St Patrick's day under his belt, they are changing the format.

There is a service of holy communion every year. Complimentary shuttle buses take people from the Cathedral in Downpatrick the few miles to the small round tower church.

Those who turn up late have to make do with a speaker relayed outside. The attending congregation heard that although there are various denomination designations in Ireland what they all have in common is Saint Patrick.

There was a call for a revival of the spirit of Saint Patrick across Ireland and a call for millions to be swept up in God's kingdom and a declaration that nothing else will do.

Communion happens mostly outside and after the short service finishes, some retire for tea and coffee while others follow a piper the few miles to Down Cathedral.

There were more people than usual this year and when the gathered people stopped every now and then, at the spar Saint Patrick shopped at, or Saint Patrick's golf course, everyone laughed. We were asked to pray for various things in groups. In the group I was with, women who came down from the North coast were not sure why they were there but liked that they were — and were glad that others were too.

At the Cathedral,  traditional Irish music welcomed the pilgrims and a standing room only service began. The Rev Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, was the special guest. She spoke about using beacons to kindle the flame of faith.

While beacons have been used for many things locally each local Church of Ireland church was given torches to light in their local church on Saint Patrick's evening.

One of the clergy a Gaeilgeoir originally from Cork, led bilingual prayers. It was only  when Bishop David spoke of the paschal fire that Saint Patrick lit and that they were going to light a fire in Stormont the Wednesday before Easter that things got interesting.

Saint Patrick lit a paschal fire on the hill of Slane at the spring equinox to challenge the authority of the High King Laoire at Tara who lit a fire at this time with the druids and forbade others to do so. Instead of being killed as a result he was allowed to continue his missionary work and a monastery was established at the site. While I do not think they are suggesting that a monastery be built in Stormont, it was an interesting thought all the same.

A QR code in the order of service took you via your phone to see the lighting of the  paschal fire outside of the Cathedral and while the challenges of using phones inside services could be heard by videos of bagpipes randomly going off it was all in good humour.

The Minister for Enviornment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Andrew Muir walked the pilgrimage and as someone pointed him out to me as being as one of the good ones, it felt good to experience the different mood music of having Stormont back .

After the service there was a complimentary picnic in the pews. On return to Belfast the next day I decided to continue my journey first taking in the 9am mass at St Patrick's Donegall Street.

There service was 80 per cent full. We had the added surprise of the church's relic of Saint Patrick's hand encased in silver being on display and available to be blessed with at the end of the service. The Priest spoke of how people across the world celebrate the day and the global effect of the Saint.  In looking at the stained glass windows at the side of the Church, I noticed the artwork depicting St Patrick lighting the paschal fire at Slane. 

I'm a glutton for punishment: at the 11am service at St Anne's Cathedral, singing prevailed. A different Bishop this time spoke of growing up during the Troubles. St Patricks Day did not seem like something he was part of and it was only more recently that it felt more like a celebration for all.

Parishioners and visitors basked in the singing and moved out afterwards into the shamrock and green feather boas of the rest of the city. Later in the day the service would include prayers in Irish and Ulster Scots.

With Tradfest doing a good job of programming the festival with music and events, I joined a St  Patricks Day cross-community pilgrimage with Rev Kiran Young Wimberly open to all spiritual traditions or none. The small group that gathered at the Big Fish, represented those in Belfast wanting something more spiritual to do on the feast day.

Rev Kiran explained that she was not a historian nor a tour guide but a Presbyterian Minister trained to take pilgrimages, giving people a time for reflection and introspection. We walked to St Anne's Cathedral then on to St Patrick's, stopping each time for some consideration and inputs. We then started walking up the Shankill to St Mathew's, the Shamrock Church.

It is unknown if his first church really was at the site of their now church hall or if in fact it was at Saint George's near the Albert Clock but the walk up the Shankill gave plenty of time to ponder. We stopped at different spots and while the women I walked with, newly moved from Dublin, could not understand why someone would not just come and 'tidy up the area'. Another women in our party spoke of teaching on the Shankill Road during the feuds and having to have three different parents' nights for different paramilitary factions.

The women newly moved from Dublin said she came into the city thinking a United Ireland was imminent but "now see's it's a bit more complicated than I thought'

Ever since studying the once banned Canterbury Tales, I've been interested in the tales and stories that people tell while on pilgrimage. As a bus brought us back to the city centre after our tea and biscuits inside the church and we were once again inside the hustle and bustle of the city it felt like something new in the city had been started and as years go on it can only get bigger.

It's great to see St Comgall's hitting its stride and attracting more events. The Belfast Print Workshop Print Fair was well-attended and the added attraction of music and workshops helped people linger longer. The transformation in this part of the city was much-needed and hits all the right notes.