Try and encourage more walking tourists to this Tralee – Dingle route.
The Dingle Way .
Why call it the Kerry Camino?
There are many historical references to pilgrims of old, travelling out the peninsula to sail from Dingle to Spain. Indeed, our symbol is an ancient scallop shell which was discovered in the area by local archaeologists, similar to the shell used in Spain, believed to have been lost by a pilgrim en route. We felt that we needed to enrichen the experience for walkers by giving them a feeling for the history of those who have walked here through the centuries, and tell the story of the past. This is a truly ancient place with many tales and myths.
The long term aim is to make it a much longer route starting in Clonfert, and incorporate the historical ties of St Brendan ,The Navigator, to Clonfert, Ardfert, Fenit and of course Tralee, Dingle and Mount Brandon.
Walkers who register with the Tourist Offices in the area, or other local busineses involved, receive an information pack containing a log book, local interest information, a route map and directions. There are differant areas along the route known as stamping stations where you stamp your log book, and when you get the required number of stamps, you are eligable to receive your Kerry Camino Certificate of Completion.
We started in March 2012, and decided to launch our new concept with an organised group walk on the first leg of the Camino, from Tralee to Camp on 16th June.
We started gathering from 9am ( the nervous organisers that is) even though we were not due to depart untill 10.30am.
We eventually had somewhere between 50 to 60 gathered, and after numerous speeches, and photographs, and videos, we started off, led out by Tralee Pipe Band. More stragglers joined us as we walked out of Tralee, heading towards Blennerville via the canal, and on towards Tonevane, where the vista of Tralee Bay opened out to us. The group stretched out depending on peoples pace, and how much talking they did!!! Photo opportunities were many as the rain stayed away.
We crossed the rivers and negotiated the turns and twists along the way towards Killelton, where a great surprise was in store, Brendan Kennelly and his brother had organised tea, coffee and biscuits for the weary walkers. It was a lovely surprise and much appreciated. The Dutch couple who joined us by accident were very taken with such Irish hospitality.
On we went past the historic ruins of Killelton towards Camp, where my friend Charlotte did her “horse whisperer” trick with the horse in the laneway.
Eventually we took the turn down to lower Camp and joined the gang in Mick Neill’s pub, where in typical Irish fashion we spent a couple of hours re hydrating with the beverage of choice, and congratulated ourselves on our success. It was a great day.
The summer which was the wettest on record, nonetheless saw a marked increase of walkers on The Kerry Camino.
Our first season was a great learning curve for us and we have several improvements to make for 2013 . Our stamping stations suffered a little from vandalism and we have involved local businesses en route to become stations next year giving a larger variety of options for the walker. We have, and continue to improve signage on the route, and we will work closely with Kerry County Council next spring in improving the quality of the route.
In 2013 our aims are:
To extend the Camino beyond Dingle and involve the communities in the west.
Continue to improve our signage, information packs, and route maps.
Organise another event in conjunction with the Gathering in 2013 in which we would do the 3 legs from Tralee, Camp, Anascaul to Dingle over one weekend.
Watch out – The Kerry Camino has been born.
Special thanks to The Grand Hotel Tralee for the meeting rooms