The Kerry Camino annual 3-day walk of the Dingle Way, Tralee to Dingle, took place on the May Bank Holiday Weekend (4th – 6th May.) This year’s event again had the assistance of Caminoways.com in providing the assistance of a group of their walk guides and promoting this year’s walk weekend (those familiar with Kerry Camino and walking events might recall that their new website www.caminoways.com was launched at Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre 3 years ago.)
Proceedings got underway on Thursday evening with an information/registration session at the Grand Hotel, Denny Street, Tralee. Walkers came from all parts of Ireland with participants also from USA, Australia, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and UK giving the event a truly international flavour.
A group of 200 pilgrims with Kerry Camino walk guides gathered at 9 a.m. at St. John’s Church, Castle Street on Friday 4th May and following a blessing from Very Rev. Fr. Tadhg Fitzgerald, Parish Priest of St. Johns, the walkers set off on the first day’s walk “following in the footsteps of St. Brendan,” with the route taking them along the Canal Bank to Blennerville, Tonevane and across the scenic slopes of the Sliabh Mish Mountains (Curraheen/Derrymore, Killelton) to Camp Lower. Having experienced a beautiful day of sunshine on a challenging route, the tea and sandwiches prepared for the walkers by Mike and Anne O’Neill at the Railway Tavern were well received. Most participants availed of the buses provided by Kerry Camino to return to Tralee for the night, others had booked accommodation in the Camp area. Kerry Camino also provided luggage transfers for those requiring this service.
Saturday morning began for most in Tralee with bus transport to Camp, numbers in excess of 200 boosted by local day walkers, setting off from the Railway Tavern in dry conditions at 9 a.m. for Annascaul, with a brief stop at Inch Beach on the way. A BBQ was enjoyed at Hanafin’s Bar on arrival in Annascaul. Again, some pilgrims chose to avail of local accommodation and others coming back to Tralee for the night.
Sunday morning’s group travelled again on buses to Annascaul and 180 pilgrims set off from The South Pole Inn for Dingle. Weather conditions were ideal for this third and last stage of the Kerry Camino, with pilgrims taking in Minard, Lispole and traversing the mountain route to Conor Hill to the Church of St. James in Dingle. Feile na Bealtaine was in full swing in Dingle providing varied entertainment and a great parade for our walkers arriving into the town.
Over the 3 days, pilgrim’s logbooks were stamped at stations along the route and Certificates were presented to all the walkers on arrival at the Church of St. James. Some participants stayed on in the Dingle area but most returned to Tralee, tired but with a sense of achievement and hopefully with happy memories and new friendships made on the Kerry Camino.
The weekend would not have been possible without the help of many willing volunteers, with particular thanks to members of Tralee Mountaineering Club and CaminoWays who acted as walk guides over the 3 days. Since Kerry Camino was launched in 2012, numbers participating have increased every year bringing new and welcome walking tourism business to the greater Tralee area.
For anyone who would like to walk the Kerry Camino themselves, or a section of it at a time, passports are available at Tralee’s Tourist Office at the Ashe Memorial Hall. Kerry Camino Certificates can be collected on completion of the walk from Dingle Tourist Office.