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A “stout” tradition: Guinness on the Celtic Camino to Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is not a single path, but a vast network of pilgrim routes that converge at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Steeped in history and spirituality, this journey has a surprising connection to the famous Irish stout: Guinness.

This unique connection finds its heart in Dublin, Ireland, at St. James’s Gate Brewery, the birthplace of Guinness. The brewery itself sits on a street dedicated to St. James, the patron saint of pilgrims-a fitting tribute. But the connection goes deeper. The Celtic Camino, a series of pilgrimage routes in Ireland and the United Kingdom, offers a way to begin the journey closer to home, linking directly with the Camino Inglés in Spain.

For many Irish pilgrims, the Guinness factory has a special significance. It’s where they traditionally get their pilgrim’s certificate, the Compostelana, stamped. The Compostelana serves as a record of their pilgrimage, a treasured memento of their journey. The act of receiving their Compostelana at the Guinness factory adds another layer of meaning and a symbolic toast to their upcoming spiritual adventure. This tradition echoes centuries of history; since the Middle Ages, pilgrims often set out on the Camino from their own countries. They endured long sea voyages to reach starting points in Spain, with ports such as Ferrol and A Coruña welcoming pilgrims from Ireland, England, Scotland, and throughout northern Europe. While A Coruña is a traditional starting point for the Camino Inglés, it falls short of the 100km required for a Compostela.

In recognition of this historical connection, there is a special allowance for pilgrims starting in Celtic countries. By walking a designated 25km Celtic Camino route in their home country and then completing the Camino Inglés, pilgrims can earn their official Compostela by presenting proof of both journeys.

Fabrica de Guinnes

Today, the Guinness factory embraces its connection to the Camino. They readily accommodate pilgrims’ requests for Compostelana stamps, adding a unique touch to the document. The Camino Society of Ireland carefully certifies Celtic Camino routes, and the Dublin brewery often becomes the first stamp in a pilgrim’s passport as they begin their transformative journey.

The link between Guinness and the Camino goes beyond a stamp. It reflects a shared spirit of adventure, resilience and community. The Camino is an arduous journey, both physically and mentally, requiring perseverance and an openness to the unexpected. Similarly, brewing the perfect pint of Guinness requires dedication, precision and a touch of the unknown – qualities that resonate with pilgrims on their quest.

So the next time you raise a glass of Guinness, take a moment to reflect on its surprising connection to the Camino de Santiago. It’s a reminder that even the most familiar brands can carry profound stories of faith, tradition and the enduring human spirit.

This post is also available in: Español Italiano

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