I Have Walked 500 Miles…by Terry McHugh

One of the first books on the Camino I read was written by a man from the North of Ireland called Terry McHugh. I didn’t know him at the time but over the years, our love for the Camino has made us friends. His book “Walk With The Sun Till Ur Shadow Disappears”, a bestseller on Amazon, is part-guide, part journal, and tells the story of one man’s struggle to get to Santiago.  You can buy his book here.

The follow up to “Walk With The Sun Till Ur Shadow Disappears” is called “I have Walked 500 Miles” and is due to be published shortly. Click on the link below to get a little bit of information about it. Hopefully, the second book will be as successful as the first. 

 

 

Writing Elsewhere….and a piece of Camino History.

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:

www.caminosociety.com/newsandevents

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 commemorations@dublicity.ie.

 

Another passion of mine…

I’ll let you into a little secret..

lyricsIn another lifetime..well, not too long ago, I used to enjoy putting one word after the other to create sentences. From the age of 12 right up to my mid-20’s, I got great enjoyment out of writing and playing guitar on a regular basis. It was a pretty fun thing to do and I was even in a band at one stage. Sure, every 20-something was! It was a rite of passage in life.

However, in time, life got in the way and writing reports and reaching deadlines replaced this little obsession of mine. I have still listened to music all along, but my two guitars are now gathering dust in the corner of my room and my collection of songs are in a box alongside them. I haven’t looked at them in years.

But tonight something happened that hasn’t happened in quite a while. I put pen to paper and wrote eight lines. It’s not much, but it could be the spark. My inspiration? The Camino, walking and its memories.

I’ll probably forget about it tomorrow and leave these few lines lying where they are but this whole thing surprised me. Will I kick on from here? I’d love to. If I can write a part of a song without music I’d be pretty happy. It’s all about being creative I suppose and this is a great way. I had also thought about buying a ukelele before Christmas as it is so easy to learn (plus they only have 4 strings).

 

Voting for the Irish Blog Awards 2015 has begun…..

…and this is where you, dear readers!, come in!

I’m up against some severe competition to be named a finalist in the Travel category. So I would appreciate your vote. Voting will stay open for two weeks until 21st September and all you need to do is click the picture below and click on “David Smith – Lost for Words”. Hopefully, I can reach the list of finalists. Thank you all in advance y Buen Camino!!

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Blog Awards Ireland – Shortlisted!!!

Just a quick update to my readers, subscribers and fellow camino-holics.

My blog has been shortlisted in the Travel section of the 2015 Irish Blog Awards! I’ve put up a nice sparkly button to celebrate this rare occasion. Pardon the expression, but I am a little Lost for Words at this time but I want to go one step further and this is where you, my dear readers, come in.

Shortlisted-Buttons-300x2504-300x250The Travel category is a list of 20 amazing, fantastic blogs, each with their own merits and here is little old me running this blog like a teenager busking in town in the pouring rain. I do this because I have a passion and I do this for folks looking to travel to the north of Spain.

There will be a public vote and that will start on the 7th of September 2015 and stay open for 2 weeks. The finalists will be reduced from the shortlist after this.

More news to follow!

Irish Blog Awards 2015 – the list has been whittled down!!

logoIt was only a matter of weeks ago when I heard the great news that I was entered into the 2016 Ireland Blog Awards. Well today, I was delighted to hear that I was placed on the Travel category longlist. There are literally hundreds of blogs in the competition as a whole with up to 10 categories; Travel being one. I guess the Camino de Santiago is such a niche subject that this is the only category it can be placed into and from what I see, I have the only blog that is dedicated to this subject. It also needs to be stressed that this is a part time adventure. I am out of the country 2-3 weeks every year so, I’m not sure I would consider this a travel blog!

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Anyhow, the list will be further shortened on the 2nd of September and will be opened to voting to the public afterwards so I will let you know if I get that far. This blog has been judged by a number of people so I am quite proud to reach this far. Anything else is a bonus. I just want to get the site out there and who knows what the future holds. The full longlist can be viewed here. The travel list is on page 17.

Fingers crossed for me, folks y buen camino!