6 Things I Did in 2018
Another year has passed. So much has happened in the past 12 months involving the Camino. It’s nice to have the last few weeks free to reflect on the past and think of the future. I’ve decided to do another post where I look back on 2018.
- The end of the year saw the first ever Camino Society Ireland Photo Contest on the 16th of December 2017 at St. James Church in Dublin. A photo I took near Ledigos was included in that exhibition and also in an exhibition in the Cervantes Institute in Lincoln Place. I wrote about the first exhibition here and the second exhibition in March here. These same photos have travelled from Ireland to Spain and back again and are currently situated in the Information Centre in St. James Street.
- Another way of being a pilgrim on the Camino is to Volunteer. I gladly “give back” to the Camino through Camino Society Ireland. As well as giving information in the centre in St. James Street in Dublin, I edit their quarterly newsletter “Shamrocks And Shells” and help with social media. The newsletter is now a little over a year old and 4 issues have been produced, with over 20 thousand views. Something I am quite proud of.
- The first Celtic Camino Festival in Westport was a success. I was there from the 13th to the 15th of April 2018 and it was marked with talks, a showing of the Camino Voyage, and a Celtic Camino walk. I wrote an article here.
- December 28th will mark my 1st year in Donabate. A great little town but with so much work planned for the future, I’m not sure if I am to call this home just yet. Over 700 homes have been approved, but without the right facilities and infrastructure, it will be chaos going to and from work. The Northern Commuter train line is fine but there are no bus services.
- I walked the Camino Portuguese with my brother from A Guarda in May. We walked into Santiago in the rain. I loved every second of it.
- Immediately on returning, I booked flights to return to the Camino Frances. I walked from Puente la Reina to Burgos in September.
6 Photo Memories of 2018
A List of What You Want to Change in the New Year
There are many things in my life I am happy with. I’m loving life in my new home, I have many good friends but I would be lying if I said I am 100% happy with my lot. I’m not. There are a few areas I want to better myself in and there is no time like the New Year to start. So here’s my list for 2018:
- Focus on my blog. My blog has been slipping. I just need to allocate my time more evenly. I have upgraded the blog in the last few weeks so there is no excuse now for more content. With planned Caminos in May and September, I will hope to upload videos from my time in Spain.
- Think of ways to walk a full 30+ day Camino, whilst still managing to pay a mortgage.
- Plan a trip to Canada to visit peregrino friends (for 2019 or beyond).
- Improve my writing, maybe find a writing skills course.
- Make more of an effort to meet new people and be more social.
- Dig out my guitar again: it has been so long since I played a tune. I guess confidence comes into it.
And there we have it. Another summary of my year. How was your 2018?
Over the last number of years, I have let my understanding of the Spanish language subside, mainly due to not using it. So I decided I would give it one more shot and see where it took me. I recently attended a conversational Spanish class in a busy Dublin city centre. The profesora gave us the challenge of talking about how we usually celebrate Christmas and what traditions we have, and we would present this to the class. All well and good.
Now I need to mention that the profesora has lived in the Basque region of Bilbao for quite some time before moving to Dublin so when it was her time to talk about how she and her family celebrate Christmas, my eyes lit up! There are so many differences to how the Irish celebrate the few days, however, everything is centred around the family. Which is the right way, I suppose.
One of the biggest surprises for me is the Basque tradition of Olentzero –
the equivalent of Santa Claus in the Basque Country. Olentzero lives or lived (depending on what you believe) in the mountains, is a coal miner and descends to town to give presents to the children on Christmas Eve. He smokes a pipe, is normally dressed in traditional costumes and wears a Basque beret. If you are bad, it is believed that you receive a piece of coal from Olentzero. Better than a Playstation 4 so!
In modern celebrations during the Christmas season, children dress in traditional peasant garb and parade through the streets with an adult-sized representation of Olentzero while singing humorous songs written in the mythical figure’s honor. It’s also a fairly common practice to hand out candy and treats to the costumed children, similar to the manner in which Halloween is celebrated.
The last few days have been tough. The death of a member of the family can put absolutely everything on hold and make you concentrate on the here and now. You put your life in perspective and answer a few questions that have been clicking around in the back of your head. Questions that I’d rather not answer. Well, until I go on Camino!
I mean the above in the least selfish way of course. When all the formalities were over, I arrived back in Dublin on Saturday after a pretty emotional mass and goodbye. I met family members I hadn’t seen in many years. We just had our own lives to live and did our own things. But what I am trying to say is we should live like today is our last. Forget the begrudgers, live your own life. If what you do doesn’t make you happy, find something else to work on!
When I arrived home, I immediately jotted in dates for a 2nd Camino in 2019. I want to be in Spain as much as possible. Next September, I will start in Porto and walk along the coast. I probably will not reach Santiago but these things don’t bother me anymore. I have a feeling 2 Caminos each year will be the norm as long as I remain employable!!
Buen and Healthy Camino!
I attended a talk given by Dr. Bernadette Cunningham last night at Lismullen Conference Centre, near Tara. It was such an appropriate place to hold the talk as the area is steeped in history..the hill of Tara, and not too far from Newgrange. The talk was on medieval pilgrimage from Ireland to Santiago de Compostela. Bernadette is due to have her book published shortly on the same subject, one that she has been researching since 2014.
The book launch will be on December 6th in Kevin Street Library in Dublin and there is great excitement leading up to it.
The book, along with the release of the Camino Voyage documentary in Irish cinemas today, highlights the evidence of how Irish pilgrims made their way to Santiago during the 14th and 15th centuries. I guess we will know more when the book comes out.
I will be attending the cinema release of the Camino Voyage this evening (my third viewing). It’s been great watching it grow to what it is now. In 2019, it is hoped that it will be released on DVD worldwide.
And back to my plans and the Camino. I have booked flights for the 7th of May to Santiago de Compostela. I travel with my brother, not on a merchant ship but on Aer Lingus economy class. I then travel to Ferrol and walk for a few days to Betanzos. From there, we will catch a bus to A Coruna and walk to Santiago. If there is time, we will walk to the coast and watch the sunset at Finisterre. It will be magic!