2017 has seen many events organised by the Camino Society for members and friends. Most notably, organised walks, which are proving very popular with members.
Celtic Camino Information day – 4th March 2017
On the 4th of March, a meeting was held in the Parish Hall beside St. James’ Church to announce the introduction of the newly approved Celtic Camino. There was a large turnout and we had the attendance of the mayor of A Coruña, Xulio Ferreiro, the Spanish ambassador to Ireland, José María Rodríguez Coso, and other dignitaries. The meeting brought Camino Society volunteers, members and those interested in the Camino together. Ever since this day, there has been considerable progress made in the promotion of the Celtic Camino. Earlier this year, we saw our first pilgrims receive their first compostelas after walking from A Coruña and in April, the Society holds its first Celtic Camino Festival in Westport.
Camino Information Days – March to May 2017
The Camino Information Days continue to grow from strength to strength with meetings in Cork, Dundalk, Dublin, Belfast and Galway. Special thanks go to the volunteers who organise these events. We continue to see large turnouts each year which shows there is still an appetite for the Camino. The aim of these meetings is to provide full impartial information to those who wish to walk the Camino or who have already done so. We look forward to 2018’s Information Days which are being organised at this very time. Keep an eye on CaminoSociety.ie for news about Information Days in your area.
Members Monthly Walk – Bog of Frogs Howth – April 22nd 2017
The Society’s newly organised members walks have been well attended since their start in April. The first walk was around the Bog of Frogs Loop in Howth, one of Dublin’s most popular walks. It is 12 km in length and was to be the first of many walks throughout the year. We met outside Howth Dart Station and we were on our way.
Howth is a bustling village and as the group walked past the Harbour, coaches filled with tourists were arriving. There is plenty to see and do here including Lambay Island, Ireland’s Eye, Howth Castle, The National Transport Museum, the Martello Tower and the Baily Lighthouse. There is a nice slow climb on leaving the Harbour and once you reach Kilrock car park, you are greeted with a steep climb on stone steps to the Nose of Howth and onto the cliff-tops. The Coastal Looped walk was chosen. This looped walk is the longest of four and is marked with purple waymarks. It is very difficult to get lost as you walk along the cliff-top. On walking the cliffs, there are stunning views of Lambay Island and Ireland’s Eye. What really struck me was the sight and scent from the bright yellow gorse that is more widespread as you make your way along the coast. Within the first hour, the Baily Lighthouse comes into view on your left.
A short descent to the beach was followed by a nice climb at Red Rock right up to Carrickbrack Road. Phew! Crossing the Carrickbrack Road leads you to a further ascent but this time it is more gradual. A welcome relief. We reach the summit within 10 minutes and approach Howth Golf Course. I found it quite amusing watching golfers attempt to take tee shots while we cross the course. The owners of the course have made markings for those crossing the course, so you will know where to walk and where not to walk.
After a further half hour of varied terrain, including passing through Deer Park golf course and Binn Eadair GAA club, we were led back to civilisation and Balkill Park estate. Here there is a nice descent to Howth Village and there are plenty of reminders of the tramline that once was a mainstay in this area. The tram served Howth Head until 1959 and there were plans made to reinstate the service in 2016. After just under 3 hours, we arrived back at Howth Dart Station.
Overall, the day was very enjoyable with plenty of sights, smells and great conversation. The Bog of Frogs is tough in places, but if you are planning on walking the Camino de Santiago, you can’t look further than this route to prepare yourself.
Members Monthly Walk – Bray Head Walk – May 27th
May’s monthly members walk took place at the opposite side of Dublin in the beautiful town of Bray. Although the forecast was for showers throughout the day, a good number turned out and braved the elements. All were prepared however.
This trail would take us from Bray village up along the Bray cliff walk towards Greystones before veering right and making a slight ascent up Bray Head. We would then reach the top of the hill and return to Bray for some light refreshments.
Starting out, we walked along the promenade, which was bustling with joggers, walkers and a solitary accordionist. Ten minutes in and somewhere along the cliff walk, the first drop fell. One drop became two until a steady shower started. Unfortunately, the rain was down for the day but it did not dampen our spirits. The climb up the hill was tough in places but nothing too challenging. It was pretty funny seeing a sign warning us of the presence of a bull and totally disregarding it. Yes, we are that crazy!! There were a few awkward obstacles to negotiate but all in all the climb is anything you would see while walking from Rabanal del Camino to Foncebadón.
At times, we were walking through flowing streams but the rain started to subside while we were making the descent back to Bray. It was pretty misty also, and it was a shame that we didn’t see the one thing that we came to see…Bray Head cross. Visibility was very poor being so high. The descent was gradual but the rain made walking difficult and it was very easy to slip. After another hour, we made it back to base safely and in one piece.
Members Monthly Walk – Ticknock Woods (Tree Rock) – 1st July
The 1st of July saw the Camino Society arrange their monthly walk in Tree Rock in South Dublin. We took in part of the Wicklow Way and part of the Dublin Mountain Way and there was a great turnout. It was a great day for it, without the rain from the previous month. We weren’t disappointed as this turned out to be a very enjoyable day.
Ticknock Forest is located to the very south of Dublin and in the Dublin Mountains. Transport was always going to be an issue for some of our members but directions were posted on Facebook a number of weeks beforehand so all was well. The trailhead is also the site for Biking.ie, a Mountain Biking Company, so we would be sharing the trails with bikers.
After the usual safety announcements, we started off and it was uphill from the off. The numbers were close to 30. We varied our walk between sections of the Dublin Mountain Way, the Wicklow Way; all the while taking in the best views of Dublin. Naturally, the higher we climbed, the colder it got. We reached the top of our climb within an hour and decided to stop for some lunch. Una sabia decisión!
The terrain varied from clear rocky trails, boardwalk, loose gravel, to a descent through boggy marsh. Highlight of the day was descending through a pine tree forest and spotting an arrow on a tree. It reminded me of the descent to Roncesvalles. All in all, we walked close to 10 km. There is potential to walk for longer and there are many trails. An enjoyable day.
Annual St James’s Day Mass – July 23rd
The Annual St James’s Day Mass was celebrated by Fr. John Coghlan at St. James’ Church, Dublin. The Annual St James’s Day Mass has always been very well attended, and this year was no exception. Special guests included the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mícheál Mac Donncha, and Reinhard Schaler and his family.
The Schaler family include Padraig mum Patricia O’Byrne, dad Reinhard and sister Maria. They were the first family to complete a Celtic Camino in Ireland and then the Camino Inglés from A Corúna to Santiago.
Reinhard gave the homily at this year’s Mass, which can be found on the Camino Society’s website. You can also read Reinhard’s blog while on the Celtic Camino. An extraordinary achievement.
The passing of Camino na Saile crew member Danny Sheehy was also remembered during Mass.
Members Monthly Walk – Bray to St James’s Church – Celtic Camino – 26th August 2017
It was decided that the Society would walk the initial stage of the Celtic Camino which qualifies pilgrims to the Irish compostela. The distance is noted as 28km in total, although a few would argue that it is a little more in distance. It was also decided that, in the future, those who complete the stage, whether it be over 1 or 2 days, would receive their Irish compostelas awarded to them.
Today’s walk was well advertised and this morning close to 40 future pilgrims turned up to take on this challenging but beautiful walk. We all met at the Bandstand in Bray at 9am. The weather was just perfect, not too cold, not too hot and the forecast was good. Pilgrim passports were provided to those who did not have them and the first specially crafted sello from Sealife Aquarium was received. The great thing about this stamp is it was made especially with this route in mind…note the shell! Onward we walked northbound, in the direction of Bray village and Shankill. We were away from the coast during this time but on arriving at Killiney, we saw the coast again, like a chink of light.
It wasn’t long before the group had split up with the faster walkers leading the pack and the more relaxed and easy-going further behind. We walked through the beautiful town of Dalkey before reaching Sandycove and the James Joyce museum at the Martello tower. Sello number 2 (above) was waiting for us and we took a rest before saying our goodbyes.
The seaside town of Dun Laoghaire was next and most decided to take a break before aiming for the City Centre. There are many other places on this Camino that will provide you with sellos so don’t be afraid to visit a library, a church, or even a hotel. After some lunch, our band of brothers move on keeping close to the coast. We pass Monkstown, Blackrock, Booterstown and Sandymount before reaching Irishtown. We eventually reached St James’s Church just after 3pm after leaving Bray just after 9am.
The final sello was provided to us and we said our goodbyes. This is a tremendous walk and today was well organised.
Thank you to Cian Brugha for putting together a great video of the day. Well done!
Dublin City Historical Walking Tour followed by presentation of Irish Compostelas and BBQ Hog Roast – 30th September 2017
This month’s walk was led by local historian Michael Whelan. Over 50 members and friends came from near and far to learn more about the James’s Street area in general. Those who attended were very happy with the event. The weather was perfect too. Keep an eye out for another Historical Walking Event in the near future.
Most of those who took part in the earlier event stayed for the BBQ Hog Roast in celebration of the Celtic Camino. But while the chef was preparing to cook up a storm, those who had previously completed the Irish stage of their Celtic Camino, would be presented with their Irish Compostelas.
Once the formalities were complete and the chef and his team was ready, all in attendance were treated to a hog on a spit, side orders and some vino. With some Spanish music lilting in the background, it was a great evening where most of us were chatting away to pilgrim friends old and new.
Annual Digital Photo Contest & Exhibition 2017 – December 16th
At the end of September, the Society’s inaugural Photo Contest was announced. Open to all people who have walked the Camino, including the Celtic Camino, it was a great chance to sort through that large collection of Camino photos and decide on the best ones to submit.
There were 5 categories with each entry being judged by 3 highly respected photographers from Dublin: 1) Landscape / sights 2) Traditional Food and Drinks 3) Camino marking 4) Culture and 5) Buildings & Architecture.
Winners would have their photos exhibited on December 16th, with a number of prizes to be awarded for each category. Prizes would be awarded for 1st-3rd in each respective category. There would also be overall members prizes and a popular vote.
Over 300 photos were submitted in the two months open for entry and the standard was exceptionally high. In the end, the judges made the final picks. The winners in each category were:
- Landscape / Sights – Andrew Suzuki
- Traditional Food & Drink – Tom Tyler
- Camino Marking – Andrew Suzuki
- Culture – Festivals & Traditions – James Kelly
- Buildings & Architecture – Mike Trebert
There were three final prizes (1st – 3rd) in a Popular Vote with all votes cast by those who came along to the exhibition. The winners of these prizes were:
1st – Mark Maguire – Landscape (Photo 247)
2nd – Rachel Fallon – Camino Marking (Photo 254)
3rd – James Kelly – Culture (Photo 226)
All the photos you see below were displayed at the Camino Photo Exhibition on December 16th and will also be displayed throughout the Celtic Camino Festival. There may be other opportunities to display the photos which we will let you know of in advance.
If you have an Instagram account, make sure you keep an eye on Camino Society Ireland’s account over the next month when it will be posting photos from the Photo Contest.