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Sean O'Neill
Double Take

Double Take: The Dublin church with 800-year-old links to an ancient pilgrimage

Fancy a 100km walk?

LOCATED ON JAMES Street North, Dublin 8, is a church that has ancient links to one of the most well-known Christian pilgrimages since medieval times – the Camino de Santiago.

Dating back to the beginning of the 9th century, the Camino de Santiago (also known as the Way of St James) is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes which lead to the shrine of St James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. 

While some of the most popular routes in the present day begin in France, Portugal and Spain, the pilgrimage once had an Irish starting point. 

Nearly 800 years ago, in 1220, St James’s Gate was the starting point for Irish pilgrims on their journey to the shrine. While it’s no longer used for that purpose, the nearby St James’s Church keeps its link alive through the work of the Camino Society of Ireland, which is based there.

The Camino Information Centre, which opened in July 2015, is run solely by volunteers who have completed the pilgrimage. They offer information on the journey and issue the official Pilgrim Passport, which is stamped along the way to certify participation on the route.

The society has also defined pilgrim routes which allow participants to complete 25km of the Camino within Ireland. This walk has been dubbed the Celtic Camino, and includes routes through Mayo, Dublin, Kerry, Wicklow, Cork and Waterford. 

(One of the suggested routes begins at Bray seafront and finishes at St James’s Church – a total distance of 30.2km.)

In order to receive a Compostela – a certificate that confirms that an individual has completed the Camino de Santiago – the pilgrim must also complete the 75km Camino Ingles route from A Coruña to Santiago. 

If you fancy joining some 200,000 people who complete the Camino walk each year, all of the details are available on

More Double Take: The uninhabited Mayo island once owned by John Lennon>

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