May 2019: Walking in Medieval Pilgrims footsteps

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!

Your Stories, Your Camino – Bozidar & Marjanca from Slovenia

During my recent Camino, I received an email from Bozidar & Marjanca who wished to tell their story about their Camino. Thank you for getting in touch!

I don’t remember when I first heard about Camino de Santiago – but since then, I very much wished to walk the Way. My dream came true in the summer of 2013, when my wife and I walked from León to Santiago de Compostela. The following year we walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port to León. We returned in 2016 and walked to the end of the world, to Cape Finisterre. Those summers still hold the most beautiful memories for us.

Before we left for our first Camino, we thought we were prepared, because we walked on many trails and hills around our home town, but on the Way we got blisters, as many others did. It was easier to handle them as the way leads you through beautiful landscapes, many beautiful villages and cities with rich history. However, the Camino sometimes takes you through industrial suburbs and abandoned villages, and of course sometimes blisters and muscles also hurt more. Many people say that Camino is a lot like life: it not only includes happiness and beautiful things, but also pain and tough times. There are many opportunities for conversation along the Way, but also time for silence and reflection.

During the walk we can recall already forgotten events, beautiful moments as well as sad memories. On the other hand, we started thinking about plans for the future. Many people also say that Camino does not only purify the body while walking but also the soul. As a result, our feelings were not only wonderful when we arrived at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela – at the same time we were sad, because the journey was over… and we realise that the best thing we can do after our Camino is that we try to continue our Camino each day of our lives.

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Bozidar and Marjanca Rustja, Slovenia

2016 becomes 2017

Now that the Christmas festivities are over, it is time to bid farewell to 2016 and look forward to 2017. While I did enjoy my short jaunt on the Camino Fisterra in September, 2016 in general will not be missed. Also while I am writing this post, I hear that Carrie Fisher has just passed away. Sigh, may she rest in peace, along with the many other people who have been taken far too early. How and ever, closer to home, my broken wrist should shortly be healed fully and I hope to move into my new humble abode in the first quarter of the year. I say all this with two fingers crossed behind my back, while keeping hold of my collection of 4-leaf clovers!

But one thing that I’ve been quietly planning since September was a return to Spain and the Camino Frances. I can’t seem to pull myself away from it. My destination has been unclear however. One time, I wanted to walk the meseta, the next I wanted to try the Camino Ingles, and another I had wanted to try the Camino Portuguese from Porto. This is the downfall of only having two weeks to work with. I was really unsure of a starting point until November. But I’ve made up my scattered mind now and have decided to walk from the beautiful city Leon to Santiago de Compostela, 300 km over a period of roughly 14 days. I have chosen April 25th as my start date and have my flights and accommodation in Leon arranged. While I have walked from Leon a number of times, I haven’t walked beyond Sarria since 2011. I have chosen Leon as a starting point as I really enjoy the hills from Astorga to Molinaseca, especially on a warm day. I am also going to see if I can avoid the end stages in Brierley’s guidebook. The towns of Hospital de Orbigo, El Acebo, Cacabelos and Las Herrerías may be small but they are fab places to stay. Other times, I have passed them not giving them a thought.

So now is a great time to create the #caminodesantiago2017 hashtag and write how I’m getting on until April. Kit-wise, I have little to change which is a saving grace! I was also given a little action camera over Christmas which I fully intend to use. I have ordered a little clip that will attach it to my backpack strap so I can take plenty of random videos and photos.

And just to finish this post, I want to wish you all a happy New Year! Feliz Ano Nuevo!

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Spanish train crash: 78 killed and 130 injured in derailment

Spanish train crash: 78 killed and 130 injured in derailment

I’m still kind of lost for words after reading and hearing about this tragedy just outside of Santiago de Compostela. I know it doesn’t mean much but I have been there twice in the past and each time I’ve been, I feel like I’ve taken some of that city home with me. I have friends living there, and it is a very welcoming city. I will be there again next June and am eager to go back. No doubt I’ll be thinking of everyone who were affected by this crash, when I walk into this great city.

Just to add, there is a book of condolences in St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row (beside the train station) if you want to leave a note or two.