On May 24th, 2014, next to Saint James’ Gate in Dublin, Danny Sheehy, Liam Holden, Brendan Begley, and Brendan Moriarty dropped the “Naomh Gobnait” to the Liffey River. Right there, they picked up their credential or “Pilgrim’s passport” from the representatives of the Camino Society Ireland and began in their naomhóg a long journey of 2,500 km along the Atlantic coasts of old Europe. The naomhóg had been built in the traditional Irish way by Danny and Liam, with the purpose of spending three summers rowing their ‘pilgrim boat’ to A Coruña and from there completing by land its way to Santiago de Compostela.
In what they called “Camino na Sáile”, the Camino by salt water, they rowed from Ireland to Wales and from there to Brittany (2014), from Brittany to the Basque Country (2015) and the third summer (2016), a last 700 km leg, in which Glen Hansard replaced Moriarty, arriving in Coruña on June 23rd. From Coruña the boat was taken by road to Santiago, where on June 26th, 2016 the Irish pilgrims transported her through the streets to the very door of the Cathedral. Although they were not allowed to take the boat to the altar, they did take their oars and there Danny prayed in Irish their ancient prayer to the Apostle. 800 years had elapsed since the registration of the first pilgrimage of Irish people to Santiago de Compostela.
In the summer of 2017, they decided to sail through the Galician low estuaries and continue sailing to Porto. On the evening of June 9th, Danny Sheehy and Brendan Begley, along with Padraig O’Duinnin and Liam Ó Maonlaí, sailed from A Guarda with the idea of landing in Tui. When arriving at the mouth of the Miño river, the current revolts of the bars made the crossing difficult and the boat capsized. They barely managed to reach the banks of Caminha, when they were helped by the Portuguese coast guard. The heart of Danny Sheehy did not resist the effort and the Irish poet died shortly after.
On the first anniversary of the event, on June 9th, 2018, the city of Tui paid tribute to Danny Sheehy and in the presence of his wife Máire, his son, Corman, and his daughter, Órla (his daughter Róisín, could not be present), a plaque was found in his memory on the facade of the San Telmo Nautical Club.
Thanks to the graceful intermediation of different people and entities, the “Naomh Gobnait” was rescued from its Portuguese stranding and given in deposit by Máire and Liam to the Museo do Mar de Galicia (Galicia’s Sea Museum), as a sign of the traditional Irish shipbuilding and of the immemorial relations between Galicia and Ireland.
As a tribute and a token of gratitude, Buxa, Galician Association of Industrial Heritage (non-profit association declared of public interest), designed a cultural project whose final objective is the repair of the “Naomh Gobnait”. To this end, and among other interested parties, discussions were held with the Museum of the Sea of Galicia and with Meitheal Mara that would contribute her experience and knowledge for the restoration of the naomhóg.
Liam Holden and Pádraig Ó Duinnín decided to come back to Galicia to do the job, starting in June 7th, this year. The restoration work of the pilgrim boat shall be carried out in full view of the public in said museum. Around this basic project a series of activities of diverse content and scope would be developed (from primary schools to professional associations) and in different formats and media (workshops, conferences, exhibitions, audio-visual documents).
It will be the beginning of a new Camino, the ‘Camino by Sea’ to Santiago de Compostela, which will have as its symbol the unmistakable silhouette of the naomhóg ‘Naomh Gobnait’.
Manuel Lara – Chairman of Buxa, Galician Association of Industrial Heritage
From the start of June, much work has been carried out on the Naomhoig. Now, she rests in the Vigo Maritime Museum until September when Liam Holden and Pádraig Ó Duinnín return to finish the work. The below video was made just before the Camino Voyage crew left her.