Monday, July 26, 2010
The Irish and the Camino
My cousin Norman and I enjoyed a 'camino fest' on Sunday 25th of July - the feastday of St. James and a very big day in Santiago de Compostela when the Feast of St. Iago/St. James falls on a Sunday. Coincidentally being the last Sunday in July it is Reek Sunday when Croagh Patrick is climbed.
The excellent day was organised by the professional team at www.followthecamino.com who are based in Ireland. We met at the Church of St James beside Guinness' brewery just as Mass was finishing for the Friends of St James. This coincidence gave rise to some confusion as the Friends battled their way into the Church Hall at the side and fought their way to the top table for a drink of tea in polystyrene cups. Bewildered Camino enthusiasts added to the crowd and to the confusion. I may subscribe to the society through their website www.stjamesirl.com.
A remarkably dressed Robert Poynton got our attention with a megaphone that at times worked. He had his coamino gear, his shell/scallop, a staff, ruck sack, all-season hat. I caught him for a few words before we started our tour of Medieval Dublin. He recommended the Portuguese Route. He hopes to walk the Northern Route in September - so hopefully I can follow his travels on the excellent followthecamino website.
We must have numbered two hundred pilgrims as we swelled the footpaths of Dublin. Our trip took us to St James Church, St James Gate,St Catherine's Church and Park, St. Augustine's Church, St Johns Hospital (the first in Ireland), City Wall and Gate, St Audoen's Church, Christ Church, Fishamble St and Bank of Ireland College Green. There is so much of Dublin I have passed hundreds of time without stopping to look over the wall or though the door.
We made our way to the conference hall in Trinity College where tea and coffee and lots and lots of chocolate biscuits awaited the hungry pilgrims. The conference was introduced by the amiable French founder of followthecamino Jeremy Perrin.
The first speaker was a director of the Waterford Museum of Treasures. He spoke at length about the Crusades, about Waterford and managed to get a word in about the camino before heading off on his holidays. Bon voyage! Or should I say Buen Camino.
The second presenter was Colm Bradbury, self titled 'adventurer' who sailed on the Jeanie Johnson from Dingle to La/A Coruna in 2007. Up to about 400 years ago Dingle was an important departure point for pilgrims to Santiago. Colm and his fellow Pilgrims competed the journey in 5 days to A Coruna and made the 3 day (75km )walk to Santiago.
The final presenter was David Clark, a Scot who is living in A Coruna for 30 years and is a lecturer in the local university. He gave a very interesting perspective on Galician Identity, in its struggle for Independence, for its literature and language and its close parallel with the Irish Experience.
The conference closed with a reception in the marvellous dining hall of Trinity College where the sandwiches were plentiful and wine was dispensed in a miserly fashion as at a wine tasting evening. Not drinking alcohol, it did not really bother me.
Norman and I made our way the Yellow Pancake restaurant (?) on Dawson Street which was closing just as we ordered our coffees. I shared with him my thoughts on Richard Dawkins and the Quakers and he displayed his thoughtful and very broad and well researched ideas.
We are germinating an idea of attacking the camino next May. Onwards and upwards. Sursum Corda.