Members and Friends’ Monthly Walk – St. Kevin‘s Way, “Camino de Glendalough” – 19th May 2018
May’s monthly members and friends’ walk took place just outside of Dublin in the picturesque town of Hollywood. Twenty-five pilgrims left Dublin early Saturday morning and arrived in the Wicklow hills on what would turn out to be a bright sunny day. The weather would turn out in our favour.
St. Kevin’s Way follows in the footsteps of St. Kevin through the hills of Wicklow to the monastic ruins in Glendalough. The main start for the route is Hollywood, however, you can also start in Valleymount. The trail is well signposted with the universal yellow ‘walking man’ symbol and arrows to show you the way. The route takes you through a wide variety of landscapes as it climbs towards the Wicklow Gap. From here, the descent brings you to Glendalough and monastic ruins.
On arriving at Hollywood, we were greeted by the Reverend Brian O’Reilly at Hollywood Anglican Church. Hollywood is a really interesting place and has its own unique charm. There is much about the history of pilgrimage at Hollywood that we do not know, but this little village played a very important role in the early medieval pilgrimage landscape, and was a stop for pilgrims en-route to the shrine of St. Kevin at Glendalough.
Fr. O’Reilly welcomed everyone and gave a pilgrim blessing before we started out. A sello was provided also for those with pilgrim passports to avail of the Celtic Camino. By walking this pilgrimage to the Glendalough monastic site, one is now able to walk from A Coruña to Santiago and then receive a Compostela, provided two sellos are received. A presentation was also made to Fr. O’Reilly of a scallop shell, Camino Society ‘meitheal’ badge, a pilgrim passport, and John Rafferty’s guide to the Celtic Camino.
From here, we all make our way to Glendalough….
We pick up the path at the King’s River, the trail sits at her bank for the next hour or so. It’s a pleasant walk on soft ground. sometimes boardwalk with the flowing water our soundtrack for the morning. The sun is out and we are in fine spirits. Ballinagee Bridge approaches. For those who start the walk in Valleymount, this is where they would join the trail.
We pass through forest land at this point, and after a gentle ascent, we arrive at St. Kevin‘s Pool, where we would rest for a while. St. Kevin‘s Pool is a popular spot for walkers to stop and have some light refreshments. It is more or less the halfway point and just before a 200-metre ascent to the Wicklow Gap.
But this ascent comes with rewards in the form of great views…We could see for miles, with Glendasan Valley on one side and King’s River Valley to the other.
As we leave the Wicklow Gap behind us, the road begins the long descent towards the Glendasan Valley and after a mile or so, we pass the ruins of the old lead mines. During the worst of the famine, these mines kept starvation at bay by employing up to 200 men. Besides lead, the mines also produced copper and zinc.
A little further on, the path follows the banks of the Glendasan River, with woods to our other side, before arriving at Glendalough Monastic Site. Here, you can gain your final sello in Glendalough at the Information Centre and if you complete your walk before 6 pm, a tour of the museums and visitors centre can be arranged.
The St. Kevin‘s Way is a fine trail with an even mix of road, boardwalk, bog, and track. All who took part on Saturday found it enjoyable and the sun seemed to give everyone a little bit more energy at the start of the day. It was always good to talk about past pilgrim experiences from the Camino also. We would also like to thank Fr. Brian O Reilly for allowing us access to Hollywood Church and talking to us before we started our Camino de Glendalough.
Members & Friends’ Monthly Walk – Bog of Frogs Loop, Howth – 30th of June 2018
June’s monthly walk took place along the Bog of Frogs Loop in Howth, one of Dublin’s most popular attractions. It is 15 kilometres in length from its starting point in the seaside town of Howth village. We met outside Howth Dart Station just before midday and we were on our way. We couldn’t have chosen a better day as the skies were clear and temperatures were in the mid-20’s for the morning. A perfect day! Howth is a bustling village and 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.
A number of our members are keen photographers so we encouraged members to bring their cameras with them and take photos during the walk. And what a day for it! Some of the photos taken by those who attended have been uploaded on Facebook earlier this evening.
It was decided to walk an alternate route along the route of the old tram line, rather than taking the traditional route toward the Nose of Howth. There is a nice ascent to Deer Park golf course where you can see great views of the north side of Dublin. There are also 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 passing the Bog of Frogs with its brightly coloured gorse, we returned to the coast. It wasn’t long before Baily Lighthouse was within our sights. Built in 1667, Baily was the last Irish lighthouse to go automatic in operation in March 1997. Many people who visit Howth come here to see the lighthouse. On walking along 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.
The day was very enjoyable and easy going with plenty of great conversation, talk about future Caminos and laughter. The Bog of Frogs Loop can be challenging in places, but if you are planning on walking the Camino de Santiago, you can’t look further than this route to prepare yourself. We would love to see you at a future event!
Camino Society St. James’s Day Outing – Saturday, 28th July 2018.
Annual St. James’s Day Mass – Sunday, 29th July 2018
The Annual St James’s Day Mass was celebrated by Fr. John Collins at St. James’s Church, Dublin on July 29th. The Annual St James’s Day Mass has always been very well attended, and this year was no exception. Special guests included a representative for the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Niall Ring, and a representative from the Spanish ambassador’s office to Ireland. However, it was a pleasure to welcome, for the first time to St. James’s Church, the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, the Reverend Dermot Dunne.
The Dean was invited to give the homily at this year’s Mass, which can be found to read here. It was a special occasion as we are celebrating the Celtic Camino and Christ Church’s connection with it. The Cathedral now is a stamp station and issue pilgrim passports.
We encourage you all to visit this great place, just likes the medieval pilgrims did, and to ask for the Cathedral’s unique pilgrim stamp.