I’m not one for countdowns (ok..I am!) but it is just under 3 months before I wander to the south of Ireland and start the Kerry Camino. This is a relatively short trail compared to the ones I am used to in Spain and Portugal but the thought of just walking with a pack is liberating. I write this while Storm Ciara does her worst outside but hopefully in May all this mad weather will have abated.
Being in Ireland, you just can’t predict what weather you are going to get, especially in May. So the best thing to do is prepare for all seasons. I really can’t see my kit changing that much. I suppose the only parts that will test me is where the trail goes “off-road” or where it is super-mucky after a rain shower! I’m so used to road-walking, or walking on flat trails on the Camino, that I get put off by any bit of descent or ascent. And this is where a good stick comes in. I always buy one before I walk a Camino. Not the metal or ultra-light type. A good wooden one. I will have some time in Tralee before I start out so I can look around for one. It is great for support, not just physical.
My brother is coming along and we have reserved some accommodation in advance. It was just an idea as Tralee and Dingle are usually very busy. I had planned on walking this route alone a few years back luckily the brother was really eager to come along this time. Below are the list of accommodation we have reserved. You might leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of them:
Tralee: Glenfort House
Camp: Finglas House
Annascaul: Dingle Gate Hostel (looking forward to the South Pole Inn)
Dingle: Rainbow Hostel
The days are pretty short, 15km to 20km each day, I don’t have a guidebook but www.kerrycamino.com has great information and maps. The traditional arrow you see on the Camino is replaced by a sign and a picture of a little man walking. There are many stamping stations dotted around the trail and when you arrive in Dingle you will be awarded with a certificate. The Kerry Camino is one of the Celtic Caminos and walking this plus walking from A Coruna to Santiago will earn you with a compostela.
But, I have three months to go. I have much to do. Follow me here as I prepare for this Camino in May. Buen Camino!
With two weeks planned for a Camino in September / October 2020, the question remains what I will do for the rest of the year. I certainly won’t stay at home and I can’t see myself jetting off on another Camino (unfortunately). With many waymarked trails and pilgrim paths on my doorstep, I have a great opportunity now to walk some of these trails.
Many of these trails are a few days long and can be reached by bus or train. Accommodation is a little different here than in Spain. There are no “albergues” and it is advisable to pre-book in a bed & breakfast or a hostel. As a result, costs can be a little more expensive. This is if you want to walk by yourself. Another option is walking as part of an organised group.
The Kerry Camino (or the Dingle Way) is a 3 day walk (57km) from Tralee to Dingle in the South of Ireland. Each year, over the May bank holiday weekend, large crowds descend on Tralee to walk this pilgrimage to Dingle. I want to walk this trail but while the organised group option is great, it is not for me.
I have already looked into the Kerry Camino for the middle of May and will cost me about the same as the price of a flight! You can watch a good video on this way below.
St Kevin’s Way (30km) follows in the footsteps of St Kevin through the hills of Wicklow to the monastic ruins in Glendalough. The main start for the route is Hollywood. The route is well marked and takes you through a wide variety of landscapes as it climbs towards the Wicklow Gap. From here the descent brings you to Glendalough and monastic ruins. I have walked half of this walk on two occasions and I love it. It can be a bit tricky when it is raining but when the sun is out, there is nothing better.
St. Declan’s Way is a modern walking route linking the ancient centres of Ardmore in County Waterford and Cashel in County Tipperary. The route most commonly associated with St. Declan’s Way is 56 miles (96 kilometres) long and crosses the Knockmealdown Mountains at Bearna Cloch an Buideal (Bottleneck Pass), an elevation of 537m. St Declan’s Way Walk utilises the route of a number of ancient and medieval pilgrimage and trading routes such as the Rian Bo Phadraig (Track of St. Patrick’s Cow), Bothar na Naomh (Road of the Saints), Casan na Naomh (Path of the Saints) and St. Declan’s Road.
There are others but I’ll be realistic as I don’t have too many holidays 🙂 I can decide on others later on.
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I have walked the first 30km of the Celtic Camino in advance of my trip to Spain, having walked from Bray to St James’s Church in Dublin. I walked with a friend Oihana in June 2017 on what would be the hottest day of the year. It was a fun day!
Early Friday morning I received a text from my friend Oihana asking if I was free to take a walk the following day. I said I did and the starting point was to be Bray in Wicklow. Bray is roughly an hour on the train from my home and about 30 km walk to Dublin city centre. The plan was to walk for 15 km or so and then we could catch the train or bus home. However I brought up the suggestion that we could walk to St. James Church and complete the first stage of the Celtic Camino. We were to bring our pilgrim passports and collect sellos just in the event that we do make it to the end point. I felt in good shape so there was no reason not to. If we made it and collected our certificates, we would then be entitled to a Compostela having walked from A Coruna, something I have been planning to do in March or April of 2018.
We met on the train in Dublin city centre and continued on our way to Bray, which is a large seaside town in Wicklow. It has a large promenade and a great cliff walk that I have yet to try. We arrived close to 9am and looked for somewhere to receive our first sello. We were told by one of the staff that the information desk at Bray train station would provide us with one. We were delighted however we had much amusement changing the date on the stamp! We had proof that we were in Bray and we took a selfie just in case the powers that be had any doubts!
Onwards we went and walked northwards in the direction of Shankill, a large residential estate and town. It was a shame we moved away from the sea and I hope in time, it will be possible to walk closer to the coast in that direction. It took close to an hour to pass Shankill and we were delighted to meet a large church called Crinken Church. We hoped that it would be open and it was!! A music group were practising inside and welcomed us in. One had walked the Camino before and was delighted to hear of this new Camino. We asked if they had a sello and after much hesitation, he said he would look. He returned with a stamp of two footprints..very symbolic! We later learned that the name of the church is St. James’ of Shankill..win!
We both felt good and with plenty of water we felt that we could complete the 30km. It was still early, however, the temperature was increasing. It was predicted to reach 27c in the afternoon and at 10.30, it was in the early 20’s, so we tried to stay in the shade as much as we could. Before leaving Shankill, we received another stamp at the Post Office. They were delighted also to hear of the new route and said that they were planning on walking in Spain soon. We also saw a man wearing a t-shirt with a large yellow arrow. That could only mean one thing…he has been on the Camino! We wished him a Buen Camino and walked on!
From Shankill, our next stop was Killiney and we were back on the coast again!! The seaside breeze felt great. With the sun out for the day, dozens of people were making for the beach and the walkways were crowded with folks out for the day. I decided to take a little detour and walk through Killiney Hill. That means jumping up about 100 steps to reach the top of the Hill and the famous Obelisk statue. Phew..what a climb. And it was a perfect time to stop for a rest and to marvel at Dublin bay from a height. I could see where we both started and also where we both had hoped to finish. It is one of the highest places in Dublin and great for a walk. Killiney Hill is a large park and is very animal friendly. Plenty of dogs were out with their owners lapping up the sun.
Adelante!! We left the park after that much needed rest, and rather than continue by the coast, we walked on a trail called The Metals straight to Dun Laoghaire. The Metals is a 3km straight walkway that was formerly a rail line from the quarry in Dalkey to Dun Laoghaire. It’s a lovely walk way but there are no opportunities to collect sellos. We might collect one or two in Dun Laoghaire, we hoped. And we did, as the local library was open. They were glad to assist. Dun Laoghaire was bustling. It’s amazing what the sun can do. We continued on but not before we took the below pictures.
From here we would walk along the coast until we reached Dublin Port and 3 Arena. It seemed like the entire population of Dublin were out by the beach, even though the tide was out! With time passing, I became more aware of a niggling pain in my foot but a 99er ice cream seemed to ease the pain for a while. We reached Dublin Port at 2.30pm, a full 5 and a half hours since we started. It was by far the best walk in Dublin I have taken, made special by the great company and the people we met along the way. From Dublin Port, it was a straight walk along the quays up to St. James’ Church which closes at 3.30 on Saturdays. I had slight doubts that we weren’t going to make it but Oihana is super-positive and assured me that we had all the time in the world. I was introduced to the Jeannie Johnson ship that is based along the port and EPIC, the Irish emigration musuem. Where have I been all these years??! Along the quays we walked until we came to Christchurch Cathedral and Vicar Street. Then the Guinness Storehouse and St. James’ Church. We arrived at the Camino Information Centre at 3.15pm and showed our credencials.
Yes, I had sore feet, yes I had a farmers’ tan, but boy! what a walk?!
If you are interested in walking the Celtic Camino, this is a great route for your Irish leg. Alternatively, you can walk a pilgrim path, for example St Kevin’s Way or St. Declan’s Way. But for somewhere closer to home, this is ideal. If you are unable to walk it in one day, you can walk it over two days. You will be still entitled to a certificate from the Camino Society. So 5 out of 5! Now to look forward to A Coruna in 2018.
If you are in Dublin, take a walk from the Liberties, past the Guinness Storehouse, past Thomas Street, keep walking until you see Christchurch Cathedral standing tall in front of you.
This is the Dublin Camino and the direction medieval pilgrims walked to board their ship bound for Spain. During your same walk, keep an eye out for the symbols of the Camino…arrows, shells, place names, is anything familiar?
I have only recently started to appreciate that pilgrims from Ireland made the long dangerous journey in the middle ages. So this book has opened my eyes. It probably ranks as one of the more important books on the Camino due to the amount of research and time that has been spent. I have written a review for Shamrocks and Shells and have reprinted it below.
All of us who have walked any part of the Camino in Galicia will notice that there is a medieval feel to it, but some of you may have asked, have many Irish people been here in medieval times and if so, why did they go there?
Dr. Bernadette Cunningham’s “Medieval Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela” explains that from the 12th to the 16th centuries, the promotion of the Camino de Santiago was linked with the idea of penance, repentance, and indulgences. The shrine of St. James was first promoted by Archbishop Diego Gelmírez who got papal sanction to issue indulgences to pilgrims. Santiago de Compostela became on a par with the other big Christian pilgrimage cities of Rome and Jerusalem. Pilgrims from medieval Ireland almost certainly made the pilgrimage to Santiago in jubilee years, when the feast of St James (July 25th) fell on a Sunday and special indulgences could be earned.
For a sea-going nation like Ireland, the geographical position of Santiago de Compostela was a major element of its’ attraction for pilgrims. Part of the journey from Ireland always had to be made by sea and the key to understanding how they got there is to understand the trade routes that already existed – the regular merchant ships of the day were used by pilgrims.
In the 13th century, the first ships were Anglo-Norman bringing pilgrims from the South and East of Ireland and those people would have crossed to Bristol or Plymouth and looked for a ship before heading to Spain from there. The ships used in the 13th century were those used in trading fish, hides or wine and were not very large. The main departure points were Dublin, Drogheda, New Ross, and Waterford. The book provides detailed maps showing towns scattered all over Ireland, the routes to the southern ports, and the long sea voyage that some undertook to get to Santiago, by way of the port of A Coruña.
The first named pilgrim was Richard de Burgh from Clonmel who went to Santiago in 1320. He probably sailed first from Clonmel over to England. Once across the English Channel in France, pilgrims generally used horses for transport until arrival in Santiago. Richard de Burgh is representative of the first pilgrims to be found from Ireland – they were wealthy Anglo-Norman townsmen or bishops with strong English connections.
By the 15th century, we find evidence from other parts of Ireland, from Gaelic lordships in the North and West of Ireland, heading to Santiago. Also, by the 15th century, direct transport in bigger ships along the Bay of Biscay became the norm. For those making a direct crossing to Iberia, the port of A Coruna was normally used. In the 15th century, merchant ships travelling on this route could carry between 100 and 200 passengers.
By the 15th century, it was not unusual for elite women from Gaelic Ireland to undertake long pilgrimages. One of the best-known was the journey taken to Santiago by Margaret O Carroll in 1445. Most pilgrims returned safely, however, there were several hazards which resulted in deaths while abroad, such as, the lack of clean water and fresh food on ship and storms at sea.
In the absence of pilgrimage, the scallop shell is one of these things that will endure through almost everything. Scallop shells are turning up in archaeological excavations throughout the country and all of these are documented in this book. So, we get a snapshot of pilgrimage from Kinsale, Fermanagh, Tuam to more recently the excavations in St. Thomas’ Abbey in Dublin.
Today, the creation of the Celtic Camino from A Coruña reminds us that in middle ages, the port of A Coruña was a major point of arrival for pilgrims from Ireland and other northern European countries.
Dr. Bernadette Cunningham has produced a significant book, as it gives us a fascinating insight into how and why men and women ventured from Ireland to Santiago de Compostela in the Middle Ages. A tremendous amount of research has been undertaken on the subject and this book is a must for anyone with a keen interest in the Camino de Santiago.
Bernadette Cunningham is author of Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela (Four Courts Press, €17.95). A three-day conference on Ireland-Galicia links through the ages takes place in Santiago on May 9th-11th. See irishsettlement.ie
Let me apologise! The intention was to keep you updated a little bit more than this but I was busy over the weekend. Here goes…
The Camino Society held their first monthly walk of 2019 in Glencullen. There are tonnes of trails there and the Dublin Mountains Way runs through it. I won’t go into it in too much detail as I wrote a piece about it on their newsletter here. Go check it out, the photos are excellent.
Anyway, the day started well with the sun shining in Donabate. I had a good feeling about the day. I brought the rain gear ‘just in case’. However the further south I went, the darker the sky got and the first drops could be felt at Johnnie Fox’s pub, our meeting point. Not to worry. We marched on regardless.
With a full pack and thirty-something other pilgrims, it was close enough to being on Camino. It was just what I needed with my May Camino quickly approaching. After the walk, we returned to base (Johnnie Fox’s) for some food and music.
The following day, Sunday, marked 100 days before my brother and I travel to Ferrol to start our Camino Ingles / Celtic Camino. From now on, it’s all double-digits and even though I have done this many times before, it feels new this time. Maybe because it is a new route? May 7th we leave for Ferrol and we hope to be in Santiago by May 14th. We have flights booked for May 19th which gives us room to decide to walk to Finisterre or stay in Santiago.
The majority of Europe has been feeling the effects of the so-called “Beast from the East” and Storm Emma since early last week. In Ireland, the country has been hit with 10-30cm of snow with drifting in many places. Added to that, blizzard conditions. Transport has been affected and many shops and offices have decided to close their doors early. I have been off work since Wednesday and return tomorrow morning.
In conditions like these, I like to look forward to a return to the Camino. For this year, I travel to Spain on two occasions: one in May on the Camino Portugues and another in September, walking from Estella for a week. I also have the first annual Celtic Camino Festival (link: https://www.caminosociety.com/celtic-camino-festival-2018) to look forward to in Westport in April. If you going along, please let me know.
For the last number of the months, the Camino Society of Ireland has been promoting their inaugural photo contest. People from all around the world have been submitting photos of their time on the Camino. There were a number of categories and prizes for each category. All in all, just over 300 photographs were received from photos of rising suns to delicious tapas. As a volunteer of the Society, I was on hand in the morning to put the final touches in place. Getting up was a struggle however as I had a night on on Friday. We were all set up at St. James’ Parish Hall for 11am and after a minor setback with blue tack (my fault!) there were 45 photographs ready and on display. Some were truly exceptional.
A solitary arrow at St. James Church in Dublin
The winners were chosen by independent photographers with excellent credentials. While none of my submitted entries were marked as winning, I had one photo down for display for the day. A surprise! And it was none other than the photo taken just before Ledigos with my good friend June last September (below). I often wonder who takes the time to put together these waymarks, stone by stone. I remember that day so well.
First prize overall went to Andrew Suzuki from Australia who has a YouTube channel Beyond The Way. Of course, he was not there to accept his prize or talk about his photo, but many others were. I met new faces also – folks who had been on the Camino Portuguese. I had many questions, but little time. My personal favourite was one which was taken between O Cebreiro and Triacastela (below). It is like the sun was shining a ray of light on the couple walking ahead of the photographer. Magic.
It’s a joy to look at various pictures from the Camino but when you hear someone talk about why they took it or the story behind it, that’s special. The photos will be displayed on the Camino Society instagram account over the next few months so I would suggest you subscribe. I’d like to thank Oihana and all the team for putting the Photo Contest together from scratch. I look forward to the next event.
If you live in Ireland, or even in Europe, you will know of the weather we have had over the last week. As I type, Storm Brian is passing over this part of the world blowing winds and delivering rain to parts of southern Ireland.
However, Storm Brian’s predecessor, Ex-Hurricane Ophelia was far more destructive. Parts of Cork and Kerry are still without power and water and trees have fallen in almost every county in Ireland. You can read more about the damage here and here. But perhaps the worst news to come from Ophelia on Monday was news of three deaths as a result of the winds. This is something you don’t hear about in Ireland. Transport throughout the country was severely affected and most companies closed before the storm hit on Monday morning.
credit – rte.ie
Now, where do I come into it?
I work for a property claims company and have been here since 2012. Since the start of the year, we have been very quiet and I have actually moved roles away from claims notifications as for that reason. I have enjoyed my new role and have been learning as I go. However, as the calls came in on Tuesday morning notifying us of damage, my services were needed and we, as a team, have been non-stop since then. The weekend came at the right time. I have put everything, including the over-seeing off the renovation of my apartment, on the back burner since Monday. It has also been frustrating as I am still in training mode in my new role. Ophelia and Brian has put paid to that until mid-week I gather.
Today was also an early start as I restarted Spanish language lessons. It’s been so long since I took classes. I stopped because the last class I took was through Spanish, which frightened me a little. Camino Society Ireland have organised classes for its members. Once I overcome this fear and learn to use the vocabulary that I know I have, I should be driving in the right direction. Espero que si!
Today, Camino Society Ireland launched its inaugural Photo Contest. It is open to all people who have walked the Camino, including the Celtic Camino. Those of you who read my blog would have taken many a photo while on Camino so now is your chance to submit a photo or two if you feel they are worthy.
There are a number of criteria that the picture must meet before you enter. There are 5 categories to choose from before entering 1) Landscape / sights 2) Traditional Food and Drinks 3) Camino marking 4) Culture and 5) Buildings & Architecture and each entry will be judged by 3 highly respected photographers from Dublin.
Winners will have their entries held on display in an exhibition and there are a number of prizes to be awarded for each category.
The great thing about this is pilgrims from outside of Ireland can enter so why not root through your Camino photo collection and consider entering.
Well it’s Friday again…where did that week go? I’m still trying to figure that out. Not that I’m complaining or anything! We have a Bank Holiday on Monday here in Ireland so that means an extra day rest and possibly a day’s walking with a full pack. I now have 30 days until I return to Madrid and on to Burgos.
This day last week I was chilling in Limerick on the west coast of Ireland with C & J whom I met on my 2013 Camino. I feel honoured to be still in contact with them and to have them part of my life. They very much live the peregrino way and every time we meet, we talk about our previous Caminos. There are so many good memories. We live in the moment, just like everyone does while walking on the trail. On the Saturday and Sunday, we walked a total of 45 kms despite downpours of rain. They weren’t a pleasent 2 days, but I’m really happy with my rain gear. However, if the weather in Spain remains the same as it is now, I don’t think I will need them!
C & J are returning to walk the full Camino Frances the day I return to Ireland…so I can vicariously follow them as they walk to Santiago and on to the sea. My Camino looks like ending in Astorga but if I feel good and feet hold up, I may make it further..possibly to the Cruz de Ferro. But who’s rushing?! 🙂
Clearskies Camino was born on returning from my second Camino de Santiago in June 2012. I had been writing a journal and had taken the odd photo while on the Camino Frances that it just made sense to write my thoughts online. 2012 became 2013 and my hobby became something more. Writing had never been part of my life but I guess the Camino gave me the inspiration to put finger to keyboard. The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage but in my eyes, it is also a challenge. It is a great way of meeting people and a great way of getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern-day life. There are many Caminos to Santiago from all across Europe, but my experiences have mainly been on Camino Frances; an ancient trail covering 800 kilometres across Spain starting in St Jean Pied de Port in the foothills of France and ending in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Clearskies Camino is everything Camino – I love writing and talking about the various Caminos to Santiago and if you are one of the many people who have walked these routes, you may well feel the same. I hope my talking about my times on the Camino helps you as you plan for yours. Feel free to browse and “like” any of my posts and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment.