Camino Society Ireland was invited to participate at the First International Meeting of Camino Societies, organised by the Asociación de Municipios del Camino de Santiago (www.amcsantiago.org) from February 22nd to 24th 2019 at Carrión de los Condes, Spain.
The highest percentage of international pilgrims arriving into Santiago de Compostela through the Camino Francés are from Brasil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, the USA and the United Kingdom and 25 participants from Societies of these 12 countries were invited to give their pilgrims’ vision of the Camino, ideas, and proposals to improve as we move toward the Jacobean Holy Year / Xacobeo 2021.
Guests included Paolo Caucci Von Saucken, one of the greatest academic authorities on the Camino, Rector de la Confraternita di San Jacopo de Compostella de Perugia and president of the International Camino experts Committee of Xunta de Galicia and Yosmar Martínez, Director of American Pilgrims of the Camino, marketing specialist and author of “Tastes of the Camino. 30 Authentic Recipes along the French Way”. Both were giving their opinion on today’s Camino, today’s pilgrims, volunteers, and worldwide Camino Societies issues and how to improve them for a better experience. Also Guardia Civil Teniente Coronel Miguel
Cañellas participated giving information on the Camino Security / Safety Plan 2019 and the app Alertcops.
There were six themes discussed:
Session 1. – Traditional reception / Hospitaleros: volunteer Albergue hosts / Albergues: the hostels
Session 2. – La Compostela: 100 km. – Overcrowding of pilgrims
Session 3. – Environment, Landscape, and Nature.
Session 4. – Tourism and Pilgrimage (security, cleaning, business)
Session 5. – The Way of Saint James’ heritage.
Session 6. – Waymarking, Awareness, Multiplication of Routes.
Some of the biggest concerns were:
- the traditional welcoming of the pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela or “Acogida”,
- issues with Pilgrim passports / “Credencial”,
- the environment and cleanliness of the Camino (rubbish and graffiti), massification of some routes, safety on the Camino and the waymarking issues (no arrows on some junctions or the fake arrows directing pilgrims towards businesses away from the Camino).
After the issues mentioned above, it was recommended that:
- Some rules should be applied by Camino Societies as they would traditionally be the first contact for pilgrims.
- The Credencial (Pilgrim passport) should have full personal information when given (no details left blank) to avoid document loss and issues at albergues or at the Pilgrim Welcome Office.
- The Credencial should be received in person (where possible) so the pilgrim can receive information about Pilgrim passport rules, Camino options, the Camino “no trace” clean environment.
- If the Credencial is sent by post, personal information will be requested beforehand.
- Pilgrims should be encouraged to download & register for the Alertcops app for safety before their Camino.
Waymarking 2021 is a project running at the moment throughout the Camino to be finished before Holy year in 2021. No matter the shell direction, the arrow is what matters.
- Yellow arrows are to indicate the Camino way.
- White arrows with distance to indicate a service away from Camino way (accommodation, church, bus station, train station, medical centre, etc)
- Yellow bike or walker with arrows to indicate a better route for pilgrims.
- Maps of alternative routes with kilometre length and villages are highlighted with interesting places.
- Pilgrim paths painted on the road of small villages with no footpaths for walkers, cyclist, and wheelchairs for pilgrims and vehicles / Road safety.
Celtic Camino / Book of Pilgrims
During the three day programme of events, our dedicated team of volunteers provided information about Ireland’s pilgrim paths, our own Celtic Camino and the Book of Pilgrims. Many of those who attended were unaware of the link between A Coruna and Ireland and were eager to learn more and hope to visit Ireland in the near future.