Walking the Camino is something that is on some people’s bucket list for years, for others it’s something that comes about through a suggestion from a friend or loved one and for some it is something that comes about following a life event that has a significant impact.
The Camino de Santiago (the way of St. James) follows a network of pilgrims’ ways or pilgrimages which culminates at the shrine of St. James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain. There are various routes undertaken by “pilgrims” and these vary from the French Way (one of the most popular routes) which is about 780kms long to the English Way which is about 125kms in length. The way is marked by a series of Scallop Shells dotted along the route(s). These shells have long been the symbol of the Camino.
Many people undertake the Camino as a pilgrimage and use the time to pray and others look upon walking (or cycling) the Camino as a challenge. Some people use it as a time to “heal” mental or physical issues, some need to take time out and others do it to meet new people. There are people who are fortunate enough to be able to walk the almost 800kms in one outing, usually taking about a month to complete and others do a piece at a time, taking a number of years to complete the journey.
Each person’s Camino is different and personal. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. One can plan the trip on their own gathering information from the hundreds of websites, articles and books that have been written. Some people use commercial travel operators specialising in the Camino but as I mentioned there is no right way or wrong way. As pilgrims walk the route they carry with them a “passport” and along the way one can have his/her passport stamped. When pilgrims arrive in Santiago these passports are produced as proof that the route has been completed and in return a Compostela (certificate) is issued to the pilgrim.
The Camino Society of Ireland offers what it calls, “independent, non-commercial information” to potential pilgrims. Based in James’ Street in Dublin the information centre there is always a busy spot and their website offers plenty of information. However, the society also provides information events across Ireland.
The Camino Society Ireland is a voluntary organisation which was established in 1992 by returned pilgrims. These pilgrims wanted to give something back to the Camino and to future pilgrims. Their website tells us that on a practical level they provide
- the only Official Irish Pilgrim Passport (credential
- A Camino Information Centre in St James Church in Dublin
- Practical Information Days for intending pilgrims
- A newsletter and more….keep an eye out for “events”….
The information events that are organised by the Camino Society are promoted on their website and can be accessed here
There is a different story to be told by everyone who “does the Camino” so despite all the information available on various platforms and media you can be sure that when you do it, you will have your very own story to tell and cherish. No matter how close it is to other stories it will differ somewhat…because “Every Camino is Different”.
Good luck and Buen Camino!