It’s a little over two weeks before I return to Spain, on what will be my first Camino this year. As you know I start my walking from Ferrol but truth be told I started this Camino back in 2017, when I walked to St James Church in Dublin and gained a celtic compostela. Everyone should try their hand at the Celtic Camino.
So now I take this compostela with me to Spain, walk a few days from Ferrol, zip back to A Coruna and walk down to Santiago. And for good measure, I will enjoy the coastal scenes of the Camino Finisterre, all 90km of it. So that is 10 days of walking on this stretch. 10 days of Galicia with my brother and a high chance of meeting a few good people when I arrive in Santiago. What more could I want. It will tide me over until September when I arrive in Lisbon to do it all over again. I’m starting to like Galicia again!
Easter pilgrims to Santiago
I’m writing this on Holy Thursday and the numbers of pilgrims in Santiago have been increasing over the Easter period. To get an idea of the numbers, all you need to do is look at the Pilgrim Office website to see how many pilgrims received compostelas on any given day.
And if you want to peek at the stream of pilgrims on their way to Santiago, why not check out the webcam at San Marcos? I was looking at it on and off today. It can be addictive, however 🙂
Brand new Clearskies Camino patches
You may have noticed a new logo, I hope you like it. I have made an order for some patches. Hopefully, I will receive them before I leave for Spain. When I receive them, I will post a photo of them. Ideally, I’d like to sell them at a small price through Etsy. Let me know if you are interested.
Edit: I have received an image copy of the design of the patch, below. It will now be sent for production and I hope to receive them before I go to Spain.
Camino Society Ireland Information Event @ Cotswold Outdoor Dublin
For folks in Dublin, I want to let you know of an Information event given by Camino Society Ireland at Cotswold Outdoor, Trinity Street, Dublin. I will be there with other volunteers to provide information about the different ways, accommodation and gear. Any questions will be answered. This is on Wednesday, April 24th at 6pm and it is Free.
A few days off work
Now, I am off work until Tuesday. I haven’t had more than 5 hours sleep in 2 months so this is a perfect chance to catch some extra zzzz. Saturday, I may attempt a practice walk and following that, I will break into the left over chocolate. Happy Easter! Felices Pascuas!
Do you ever have a countdown to your next Camino ticking away? I bet you have. I use an application on my phone telling me the number of days I have left before I leave. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not but each morning I get a little bit giddy knowing that I’m a little closer to my return date. And when I return back to Dublin, the whole process starts again.
So what do you do to bide the time before your next Camino?
It is quite possible to walk the Camino with very little preparation. Provided you are in normal good health, are prepared to take your time and listen to your body, you are half way there. However, here in Ireland, we are lucky enough to have numerous walking trails and pilgrim paths on our doorstep. It is a shame not to use them. Throughout the year, there are various walking festivals in Ireland which provide perfect opportunity to get you ready for a trip to Spain. Or why not walk by yourself with your pack? You can find details of these trails on irishtrails.ie or pilgrimpath.ie. It might be the case in other countries.
Are you comfortable with your Pack?
If you are considering carrying your pack on your Camino, you will need to be comfortable with it and it’s contents. Check it’s weight and if there is anything you don’t need, leave it behind. Try to walk with your pack a few times before you leave so you are sure it is the right size and all the settings are correct.
Join a Camino / Pilgrim Society
Are you talking about your experience on the Camino with a family member and they just don’t get it? Does it feel like you are talking to a brick wall? Well, by joining a Camino Society in your country, you get the chance to meet like-minded people (just like you!), share your story and give back to the Camino. Being a volunteer with Camino Society Ireland is a huge plus for me as I am able to pass on my experience to people preparing for their own Caminos and I can learn about new and exciting developments. And I don’t drive my family crazy!
YouTube / Movie
YouTube contains countless videos of peoples experiences along the different Caminos. From the very professional to videos made by pilgrims just like you and me. Watching them brings me back to the Camino and some offer helpful tips. Or you could watch a Camino related movie. The Camino Voyage springs to mind and I may give that a watch shortly.
And when you come home…
..Organise another Camino! Ah yes, the old doozie! For those of us fortunate enough to get away for another Camino, the 2nd best thing to being on the Camino is putting one together. Booking your flights and/or your first night accommodation (if needed) is a joy-inducing formula. Then there is Gronze.com, Rome2rio.com and plenty of other Camino planning tools to ensure everything goes smoothly.
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.
As I have mentioned in the past, I have been involved with Camino Society Ireland since April last. Until recently, I had been helping out in their information centre on St. James’s Street, on one Saturday per month. It is also open on Thursday and Friday! So I still do that and the centre re-opens for the new season at the start of March. I’m looking forward to getting back into the action again.
I’ve also lent my hand, so to speak, to writing articles for their website and I edit their quarterly ezine entitled Shamrocks and Shells for members. Much of my writing has been directly with the Camino Society rather than here, and that’s fine by me. If you want to get a taste of what I write about, why not drop over to their website on:
The last few months have been a hive of activity for the Camino Society. We have had a very successful photography contest, two very interesting events and a newly launched ezine. There is the first information day on February 17th in Dublin and the much anticipated Celtic Camino Festival in Westport, Co. Mayo in April (details on the website).
The Dublin Camino
One of the events that I have mentioned, and I have written about, that struck a chord for me was a talk given by Historian in Residence at Dublin City Council, Cathy Scuffil. The talk was about St. James, the Camino and the Dublin Connection. I’m going to post below what is on the Camino Society website.
To learn about this connection, we were told that we need to focus on one part of Dublin – from St. James’s Street to Trinity College. Not only is this part of Dublin popular for tourists, but if you look closely enough, you will see plenty of evidence of the Camino within this short distance. We were told that this route was taken by pilgrims as they assembled at St. James’s Gate, walked through the city, before embarking on their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Lazar’s Hill – St James’s Hospital
800 years ago, Henry de Loundres, Archbishop of Dublin, founded the Hospital of Saint James, a hostel for pilgrims and the poor of Dublin, on present day Townsend Street, then known as Lazar’s Hill or Lazy Hill. It stood roughly where Hawkins House stands today, right beside the All Hallows Monastery, which later became Trinity College.
In medieval times, pilgrim ships destined for Santiago apparently docked alongside this Hospital, then sailed directly to the coast of Galicia, at Ferrol or A Coruña, from where the pilgrims made their way to Santiago overland. By the mid-13th century, some of these ships were carrying people with leprosy who were desperate for a miraculous cure.
A rather more downtrodden colony is said to have existed in what is today, Misery Hill. Sufferers lived in these monastic-type establishments not simply for the good of their health, but also as a form of perpetual quarantine. The only acceptable way to check out of the hospice was to perish. Another word for these quarantine stations was ‘Lazaretto’ (linked to Saint Lazarus) and it is from this that Townsend Street took its former name of Lazar Hill, sometimes shortened to ‘Lazy Hill’.
The scallop shell and water
The two things you associate with St James are the scallop shell and water, so even in the current tradition, those two things are replicated in ways that seem to commemorate the pilgrim.
For example, have you seen the street fountain on Lord Edward Street? It was installed in the 19th century and if you look closely, you will see the scallop shell motif at the top. Another example of something similar – the two holy water founts at the front of St Audoen’s Church on High Street. Both founts are large shell-like features and were brought back from South America in the 19th century.
Other examples include
– A baptismal font in St Audoen’s Church of Ireland church which contains the scallop shell on each side of its font.
– The Tailor’s Hall, Merchant Quay – Its fireplace contains no ornamentation except for a single shell.
– Hawkins House, Poolbeg Street – The Department for Health is located on the exact spot where the original St. James’s Hospital was located.
– The Fountain at James’s Street – It was a custom that funeral processions passing the fountain would circle it three times before carrying on to the cemetery at St James’s Church where Pearse Lyons Distillery is now. There are also two scallop shells on the Fountain, but we are not sure if the water is for drinking!
– St. James’s Gate – Perhaps, for many people, visiting St. James’s Gate is like a pilgrimage. With over 1.7 million people visiting in 2017, it is a great attraction and adds to the area.
– Pearse Lyons Distillery – The newest visitors’ attraction in the area which was the original Church of St. James.
– St. James’s Hospital – The Hospital’s logo contains a scallop shell.
These are all areas along our route that have an image of the scallop shell included.
Cathy has requested that if anyone sees an image of a scallop shell, whether it be on the end of a church pew, on an altar, in the Dublin area, particularly in the Liberties area, could you please contact her. You can contact Cathy on Twitter @DubHistorians or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
With 3 days before I board my flight to Madrid, I am filled with mixed emotions – happiness, trepidation, excitement – but this is all normal.
I have walked into Burgos twice before but have not had the chance to properly explore. This year I arrive between 1-2pm and I will make the most of this free time to not only visit the Cathedral but it’s Castle and the Museum of Human of Evolution. But all this may change. I remember in 2015 that I had very little energy on arriving at the albergue and skipped the opportunity of seeing the Cathedral – possibly the most beautiful one along the Camino, with the exception of Santiago.
Am I ready? Of course – I have been since September 2016. Am I prepared? – I hope I am. I will find out when I arrive. My pack weight is lighter than before at 7kg. The weather forecast has made me decide to carry a silk liner instead of a sleeping bag. New additions include rain pants and pacerpoles. I return to 1000 mile socks also.
This may be my last stroll on the Camino Frances for quite some time, as I have previously mentioned. A jaunt on the Celtic Camino from A Coruna has been planned in early May of 2018 with my younger brother. This will be first time I walk with a companion. He is a much faster walker to me – so I may still be walking alone. Either way, I look forward to this trip.
You can follow me on my meseta Camino from Monday on my Instagram and occasionally on my Facebook page. Please like both if you can. You won’t miss a footstep if you do.