Following on from last year, the start of 2018 has been very successful. There have been many events organised by the Camino Society for members and friends. Most notably, talks, exhibitions, organised walks, and of course, the Celtic Camino Festival.
Camino Talk – ‘St. James, the Camino & the Dublin Connection’
Presented by Cathy Scuffil – Dublin City Council Historian
Saturday, February 3rd, 2018.
Our next event again looked into Dublin’s history with the Camino. The Camino Society was delighted to have Cathy Scuffil visit St. James Parish Resource Centre and talk about Dublin’s history and connection with the Camino de Santiago. Cathy is Historian in Residence in Dublin City Council with a great knowledge of the Liberties area.
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’.
Above is a map of the city of Dublin by John Speed, published in 1610. You will see St. James’s Street in the lower left area of the map while further to the right (listed 10. The Hospital) is St James’s Hospital on what is Townsend Street today. This is where pilgrims would rest before making their way to Spain by ship.
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 fonts at the front of St. Audoen’s Church on High Street. Both fonts 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 of Health is located in 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.
Discovery at Frawleys on Thomas Street
The old department store “Frawleys” on Thomas Street is currently being redeveloped into student accommodation, and if you walk by it, you will see nothing more than a building site. The builder was given permission to dig down. However, the city archaeologist had a feeling that there might be something there that she might like to know about. On their first dig, they found a skeleton with a scallop shell. All work has stopped and there is currently a 9-month archaeological dig taking place on the Thomas Street site. Since then, over 120 skeletons and 2 scallop shells have been found on the site. This further strengthens the connection between Dublin and the Camino. It is believed that the bodies have been there since the 12th century. You will all agree that this is exciting news as we wait for further news from this dig. All these burials are connected with the Abbey of St. Thomas and the Abbey would have had a guesthouse that pilgrims could have used. It would have been on the pilgrimage route. We know that the Abbey of St. Thomas was behind Frawleys and the graveyard was under Frawleys. Two of the 120 burials were pilgrim burials in that they were buried with scallop shells. These are significant finds and absolute confirmation that we are on a pilgrimage route.
Cathy Scuffil 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, or on a street, 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. Thank you, Cathy!
Camino Talk – ‘The Camino in Britanny’
Tony Grouard – ‘Association Bretonne des Amis de St Jacques de Compostelle’
Saturday, February 3rd, 2018
Camino Society Ireland Information Day
February 17th, 12pm – 3pm
St James’s Parish Hall
The Society’s first Information Day of 2018 was held on Saturday, the 17th of February at St. James’s Parish Hall. A large attendance turned out as expected eager to gain information about the Camino. Some had walked before and were interested in learning about other routes, while others were planning on taking their very first steps towards Santiago de Compostela.
After a welcome from our chairperson, Turlough O’Donnell, a short presentation was provided by Mike Timms. Mike gave some background information on the history of the Camino; some details of the many routes, how to plan your Camino and explained the significance of the Pilgrim Passport and Compostela. Information was also provided on what you can do in Santiago after your Camino. Mike then listed some of the more frequent questions, for example, “when should one go?” and “how much money to set aside?”.
Launch of the Celtic Camino Festival
Thursday, 8th February 2018
The Guinness Storehouse, St. James’s Gate.
The Guinness Storehouse at St. James’s Gate welcomed the Camino Society and it’s volunteers to celebrate the launch of the first Celtic Camino Festival. The Festival commences on April 13th in Westport, Co Mayo and continues for the weekend, and how apt it was to stage its launch at St. James’s Gate.
Turlough O’Donnell, Chairperson of the Society welcomed those in attendance and explained the significance of the Celtic Camino Festival. In doing so, he alluded to the great work done by Fr. Jose Maria in San Juan de Ortega. Fr. Jose Maria knew that the ancient Camino de Santiago had run through that village, and he cleared the Way so that pilgrims could pass. Other men, such as Don Elias in O Cebreiro, were instrumental in revitalising the Camino from the late 1970’s. So the Festival is about people clearing the path for other people so that people will walk through rural Ireland again as they once walked to places of pilgrimage.
The Celtic Camino Festival is about celebrating the great walks in Ireland; places like Glendalough, Clonmacnoise, Ballintubber, Croagh Patrick. All of these ancient places are coming to life again. On Sunday, 15th April, the Festival hosts a Celtic Camino walk from Ball to Ballintubber Abbey. On completion, those who walk will gain a Celtic Compostela. The Festival also hosts the acclaimed film “The Camino Voyage” on Friday, April 13th and on Saturday, April 14th, there will be a day of presentations, discussions, and workshops from Camino experts. Later that evening, a Gala dinner will be hosted in Hotel Westport.
We would finally like to thank the sponsors of the Celtic Camino Festival, Mayo.ie, Portwest, Hotel Westport, The Spanish Tourism Board, and Camino Ways.
Monthly Members & Friends Walk
Bray Head Loop
March 24th, 2018
Our first walk of the year was on a beautiful Saturday in Bray. A large turnout walked to the cross on Bray Head and back. Below are just a small selection of photos taken. For more, please see our photo album on Facebook.