Book Launch of ‘Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela’ – 7th December 2018

In the recently renovated Kevin’s Street Public Library, we gathered to celebrate the launch of Dr. Bernadette Cunningham’s book ‘Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela’. There was a large turn out on this special occasion.

Medieval Irish pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela 

Camino Society Ireland chairman, Turlough O’Donnell congratulated everyone involved in the renovation of the library. It is based in a wonderful part of the city. The library has created a Camino Collection and hopes to build on that. The Camino Voyage was mentioned also, which you are all encouraged to see. It is another success story which can be seen in the Irish Film Institute in Dublin, and other cinemas throughout Ireland.

The book was then launched by Brother Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB, Historian and Benedictine monk of Glenstal Abbey. His most recent works have been published by Four Courts Press – ‘The friars in Ireland, 1224–1540′ and ‘Soldiers of Christ: The Knights Hospitaler and the Knights Templar in medieval Ireland’. He is also a pilgrim, having made the pilgrimage from Triacastela on the Camino Frances recently with students from Glenstal Abbey.

Br. O Clabaigh was quick to praise Bernadette’s book but he did so with a caveat. He says that looking at the title ‘Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela’, that the book is aimed at a niche group of people who have done the Camino de Santiago themselves or who may have an interest in it or who may have an interest in Irish history, but what you have in front of you is far more than this. He states that is the most authoritative account of medieval Irish pilgrimage to the shrines of England, Europe, and the Holy Land. He goes on to say that this book is one of the most significant and accessible contributions to Irish medieval social and religious history.  Br. Colmán congratulated Four Courts Press for producing the book to such a high standard but also for publishing the book at a price range and a format that is so readily accessible.


Anyone who is familiar with Bernadette’s early medieval research knows her ability to forensically piece together events. Whether it is the manner in which she traces the evidence of the cult of St. James in Gaelic sources, or her familiarity with the iconography of St. James in Ireland, in different parts of the country, in different media, and in different stages. Bernadette also distinguishes between Anglo-Irish pilgrims who were better documented in the 12th and 13th centuries while their Gaelic counterparts turn up with more frequency in the 15th century. There is great analysis made into both the Anglo Irish and Gaelic pilgrim.

Likewise, we have documented experiences from women pilgrims. There is the account of Margaret O Carroll who made the journey to Santiago in 1445, which was a Jubilee Year.  She was a woman who knows how to shape her image. Prior to this, in 1433, which was a year of famine in Ireland, she was remembered for providing two magnificent feasts: one on the 26th March at Killeigh, Co. Offaly and another on the 15th August at Rathangan, Co. Kildare. She entertained the great and the learned so that her name would be remembered.

In the absence of pilgrimage, the scallop shell is one of these things that will endure through almost everything. Scallop shells are turning up in archeological excavations right around the country and Bernadette has documented all of these. So we get a snapshot of pilgrimage from Kinsale, Fermanagh, Tuam to more recently the excavations in St. Thomas’ Abbey in Dublin.

Dr. Bernadette Cunningham


Bernadette began by saying that writing a book is similar, in a lot of ways, to walking the Camino – it offers you the opportunity to explore new horizons, to see new things, meet new people but also to rediscover old ways.  Bernadette thanked everyone for coming this evening to share this celebration. Thanks were also given to her sister Mary and her husband. Her sister Mary introduced her to the Camino in France. They have had the opportunity to walk together many times.

There was an opportunity to buy the book following the launch, however, you can buy the book through the following link (

If you are in the Kevin Street area, we encourage you to visit the newly renovated library. It looks brand new and in time there will be many books relating to the Camino de Santiago to refer to.


Members and Friends Monthly Walk –  Leafy Loop, Durrow – 29th December 2018

On Saturday, December the 29th, we made our way to County Laois and the Leafy Loop Trail in Durrow (Map) for our members’ walk. Michael Walsh, a society member and veteran of the Camino welcomed one and all before asking us all to treat this walk like we are on the Camino – talk amongst one another, and create new friendships. The rain had started to fall as we set out but we were all prepared for the elements.

In the woods, there is a soft bed of fallen leaves of green, brown, red and yellow. We walked through country lanes, across farmland and along river banks, forestry paths and woodland tracks. The walking was perfect, that said, the recently fallen rain made you double check your step. It would be great to walk this in Summer.

We had close to 50 walkers today which is wonderful considering the weather. Special thanks to our two guides Susan and Mary who led the way throughout the day. As the walk progressed, it was great to hear pieces of history and notes of local interest from our guides and that added to the day. The walk itself was about 15kms with the whole event taking us around 3 hours to complete.

Members and Friends Monthly Walk –  Dublin Mountains Way – 26th January 2019 

The first event of 2019 took place in Glencullen, South Co. Dublin. The route would take in Dublin Mountains Way and Ballyedmonduff Forest before climbing to Fairy Castle, the highest point of the walk, offering amazing views of Dublin and its surrounds.


After arriving at Johnnie Fox’s pub at 11am, Bernard Lynch, a society member and veteran of the Camino welcomed one and all. He gave an outline of what was in store for the day before wishing everyone a Buen Camino! Leaving Johnnie Fox’s pub, we stayed to the roadway until we arrived at Glencullen Adventure Park  – a bike park, home to a number of trails with increasing degrees of difficulty. The Dublin Mountains Way passes through here and so we would continue our walk. At times, we would be sharing the trails with bicigrinos, however, we got on well.

Today’s trail varied from walking in and out through woodland before emerging into Coillte’s Ballyedmonduff Forest. There were plenty of yellow arrows to show us the way, which seemed to get the conversation going! Leaving Ballyedmonduff Forest, the trail started to climb to Fairy Castle, a 537-metre ascent. However, once everyone has reached the top, it is a great chance to survey all of Dublin and beyond. The descent from Fairy Castle is gradual, taking in clear rocky trails, and boardwalk before we arrived at Glencullen Adventure Park’s base again.

A highlight of the day was left until the end of the day when we visited the Kilmashogue Wedge Tomb, which is over 4000 years old. This part of Dublin is filled with history.

Many thanks to our event leader Bernard Lynch for selecting a great route.

There were many new faces walking today and hearing their stories of Caminos old and to come is encouraging.  We hope to see you all at future events.

Photos: @nambrosium / Oihana Trojaola

Aonach ar Siúl Nenagh Walking Club and Camino Society Of Ireland Information Event –  16th February 2019

The Camino Society Ireland would like to sincerely thank the Nenagh Walking Club – Aonach Ar Siúl, the Nenagh Lawn Tennis Club, A Sportsman’s Dream, Cyril for his poem (attached below), Sean for his recitation, Polly for her dancing, the walkers, the attendees at Michael’s talk and of course the makers our sandwiches, cake, buns, teas and coffees for a wonderful day. Thanks to Anne Fitzpatrick for organising this event and bringing the Camino to Tipperary. Not forgetting Donal, Connie, Mary, Pat, all our society volunteers (Michael, David, Elizabeth, Betty, Pat, Edwin, Donie, Martin & Nora), and everyone else we forgot to mention.

Thanks to Michael Walsh for donating the handmade walking staff, won by Mary Limbroso.

By Cyril McLoughlin

The sense of Joy and camaraderie could be felt in the warm greetings of the members of Aonach ar Siul Nenagh Walking Club and visiting members of the Camino Society of Ireland at the Nenagh Lawn Tennis clubhouse venue on Saturday 16th February 2019. It was like inviting good friends to a party to celebrate common interests and appreciations, in a mission to invite all in the community who would like to join in and benefit from a sense of belonging, a focus for an activity that is good for physical and mental wellbeing, an opportunity to engage with good people and to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us, to take time to ourselves in a safe and caring walking club and society.

When Anne Fitzpatrick, who is an active member of Aonach ar Siúl Nenagh Walking Club and Jim McNicholas, who is the director of The Camino Society of Ireland, together invited the Society to come to Nenagh to share and to co-host an open day for the two organisations, a network of friends and supporters ensured it would be a day to remember. The offering of information by members who were there to help, the presentation of sandwiches and cakes and treats, the decking of the hall with flags and banners, the arranging of seats, the friendly atmosphere in the clubhouse, was evidence of an event well planned and orchestrated. The input and cooperation of those behind the scenes is praiseworthy and noted in the success of the event.

People from the town and hinterland came with an open mind to hear about Aonach ar Siúl, Nenagh Walking Club, from Donal Quinn, the club, chairman and to learn of the variety of hillwalking tracks and trails in our local hills and farther away and to pick up a membership form perhaps or to know how to join online from the club WEBSITE: or to visit the other stands about the Camino, manned by experienced walkers of The Way. Jim McNicholas and his entourage came well prepared with slides and anecdotes, guidebooks and leaflets as Michael Walsh spoke with the sense of fun and enthusiasm that can only come with personal experience of walking on the pilgrimage path which is the Camino, to one hundred and ten people, who filled the hall. Information was shared on how to go about walking on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the requirements for such an adventure, where to start and where to go and more, all answered with patience and care by people who know the routes, the transport, the accommodation, the things to know before you go to ensure a special experience which can only be yours. The connection was made with Aonach ar Siúl Nenagh Walking Club, as their extensive walking schedule of walks on Sundays. Saturdays, Thursdays and Tuesday evenings, as well as their weekends away to more distant hills, are an excellent preparation for the Camino and a good opportunity for such an undertaking with other Individual members, maybe, who have shared the Camino experience in the good company of one another, yet they are conscious of the opportunity for personal reflections in a private space. Advice is freely given to help anyone, who wishes it, from those in our local hillwalking club who are aware of the needs of others who wish to set out on a new challenge and experience. Now is a good time to join Aonach ar Siúl (, to get the benefit of club membership, international insurance and to experience many Caminos locally and in Spain.

Polly Ryan who is a member of the walking club, took to the floor in a way only Polly can, with a smile in her eyes and a lightness of step, in her jigs and reels, in an exhibition of dancing, par excellence. The applause was sustained when Polly won the first prize of a pair of walking boots generously gifted by A Sportsman’s Dream, the premier sportswear shop in Nenagh who also presented thirty or so prizes on the day from their display of walking gear for beginners and for those more experienced, They can kit you out from head to toe.

Before the assembled group set off on the hill walk, led by Mary Mackey and friends, to one of our beautiful scenic areas, that we are delighted to showcase to friends, in Tonntine on the Arra mountains, so called as it is thought to resemble a hilltop on fire as the sun goes down on the horizon, a poem was recited by Cyril Mc Loughlin of Aonach ar Siúl, to outline what can be expected to be seen there, depending on the time of year, and to bring you back perhaps to see what you might have missed on your first outing. The Poem was composed on and about Tonntine. The text of Cyril’s poem is at the end of this blog.

What a wonderful place it was to enjoy such a delightful day with stories and chat and also a little quiet time, perhaps by some, to engage with their own thoughts. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful scenery from the top of Tonntine , like there was no tomorrow as the saying goes. Speaking of which, Sean Butler regaled them all with a poem about a railway station called Morrow and a misunderstanding between a rail traveller and the railway station master about a train timetable to Morrow. When they had recovered from the laughing they continued the walk knowing that a day out with Nenagh Walking Club can offer much more than just exercised limbs. Then it was back to the Nenagh Tennis Clubhouse for some who were entertained again by Polly Ryan’s dancing, as they had more to nibble on and left refreshed knowing that Nenagh has so much to offer in hospitality, good-humoured, uplifting friends and beautiful surrounds.

Nenagh Lawn Tennis Club, A Sportsman’s Dream, The Camino Society of Ireland and Aonach Ar Siúl can be proud of their cooperation in bringing such an enjoyable and enlightening event to Nenagh. We trust we will do it again.

Tonntine (Cyril McLoughlin) ©

Have you ever been up to the top of Tonntine

To walk on boggy land there

that over Millennia was laid

and trekked on tracks of rock and shale

where turf is tramped and washed away.

Have you ever marched on grassy trails,

graced by foxglove’s purple bells,

these tall stooped sentinels that stand serenely

like Cardinals in conclave.

Have you seen their splendour

as they greet us ramblers on parade,

in this tranquil place,

in their haven,

in summer sunshine or soft rain.

Have you ever seen the glistening shimmer

on the Shannon River from on high,

and the image of the sky on Lough Derg,

as you look on its headlands and islands

and Sliabh Bearna rising behind,

with it’s crest above the mystic cloud

that levitates over the lake,

as the early mornings awake

to the colours and hues of leaves

and wild flowers,

that accentuate the white bog cotton

blowing in the breeze,

and all God’s creatures are active,

at their ease, above the farmer’s fields

in shades of greenery,

that slope down to the water’s edge

like a hand-stitched quilted tapestry.

Have you ever seen the panorama

over the scrub land and scented heather

to the dark forest trees,

to the reclining spine of the Silvermines ridge

that Keeper Hill proudly oversees,

and their sister hills on the horizon,

that shelter town lands there.

And the cross on Laghtea that gleam,

to shine on dreams of those who care

Have you ever come here in a winter’s chill,

when a cold frost is in the air,

and nature is asleep, under a white sheet, still,

when clouds descend to cover the hill,

to confuse and to disorientate,

where metallic antennas on towers of steel

resemble an outer space station,

a monument and a museum, some say,

to man’s modern communication.

If all these scenes you have never seen

and you wonder if they are true,

then come, with friends, to the top of Tonntine,

where these wondrous sights

we will share with you.

Camino Society Ireland Information Event – St James’s Parish Hall, Dublin – 2nd March, 2019

Following on from successful information talks in Cork, Belfast, and Nenagh, the Society held its annual information event on the 2nd of March in St. James Parish Hall. A large attendance turned out from all over the Dublin region, looking to gain information about the Camino de Santiago. Some had walked before and were interested in learning about other routes, whilst others were planning on taking their very first steps towards Santiago de Compostela.

The day started with a short presentation on the history of the Camino, on how to plan your Camino, and on the significance of the Pilgrim Passport and Compostela. Information was also provided on the Celtic Camino, our Pilgrim paths and the Books of Pilgrims. There was also information provided on how to join the society once you complete your Camino.

Following the presentation, which was well received, a number of stands were manned by Society volunteers – veterans of each route, so people could visit a particular table should they have a question. And there were many questions. A number of volunteers brought full backpacks, so this was particularly helpful to those in the planning stage to see the type of clothing is needed.

Photos by Oihana / Elizabeth Lopez