By Cian Molloy - 15 December, 2017
An exhibition of Camino de Santiago pilgrims’ photographs goes on display tomorrow (Saturday) at St James’s Church in Dublin 1.
The exhibition, which runs from 11am to 3pm, features 45 photographs chosen from more than 300 images submitted to the Camino Society of Ireland, which actively promotes the pilgrimage in Ireland.
The idea for the exhibition came from Oihana Trojaola, a Basque native who has been living and working in Ireland, and who is an active member of the Camino Society. The photos are divided into five categories: landscape, culture, food, architecture and Camino markings. Entries for the exhibition came from across Ireland, the UK, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
The pilgrimage to the Shrine of St James the Great in Northern Spain has been popular since medieval times, but in recent years interest in it has grown substantially.
The modern day pilgrimage involves pilgrims travelling by foot, by bicycle or by horse along one of four designated routes through Spain. On arriving in Santiago, if they can show that they have walked at least 100km to get there, or travelled 200km by bike or horseback, they earn a certificate of achievement, known as a compostella,
Proof is obtained by collecting a series of stamps in another special document, known as the credencial or ‘pilgrim’s passport’, which in Ireland can be obtained from the Camino Society at St James’s Church. The credencial also gives pilgrims access to low-cost hostel accommodation along the four designated routes.
It is estimated that this year some 10,000 Irish pilgrims walked all or part of the Camino, which is sometimes called ‘The Way of St James’ in English. Many people do not complete the pilgrimage in one go – rather they do it in chunks. Indeed, an innovation this year is that you can start earning the compastella in Ireland, by walking some of the pilgrimage here before travelling to Spain — this is particularly useful if you are starting your walking in Spain from La Coruna, which is less than 100km from Santiago.
Whether you do it in one go or in stages, St James’s Church is the traditional starting point for Irish pilgrims today. Long ago, when Ireland’s capital was a walled city, pilgrims leaving Dublin for Spain left via St James’s Gate, which is why the Guinness brewery that now stands at this location bears that name.