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10th Aug 2019

My Camino with Maria Walsh Day 9: Take time for yourself and make no apologies about it

Cathy Donohue

The more you put into anything, the more you get out and that’s especially relevant for the Camino”.

Maria Walsh is a newly-elected MEP. From Shrule, Co Mayo, she was crowned Rose of Tralee in 2014. This week, she walked a stretch of the Camino De Santiago and shared her experience for Her. After completing the week-long trek, Maria has some invaluable tips to share…

I write this two days after leaving Muxia and Santiago and my brain (and feet!) are still very much on ‘The Way’.

When it comes to the experience of the Camino, it is exceptionally difficult to switch ‘off’ and find the words to share the brilliance that goes with Camino.

I said goodbye to Mary in Santiago. I took an earlier flight, and she spent her final hours strolling around Santiago and visiting the Cathedral.

Even though we are catching up again soon, it’s a bittersweet goodbye.

I woke today with the desire to walk more kilometres (or clicks as some would say on the Camino). The seven days gifted me some downtime after a busy three years since my last pilgrimage. I gifted myself time on this journey, lifting a significant weight. I was afforded time with my greatest friend. I was afforded time along the seafront. I was afforded time with myself to think about what has been achieved and what I want to work towards now.

The simplistic nature of ‘The Way’ removes all the noise I experience on a daily basis. The only ask from Camino is that you put one foot in front of another, follow a yellow ‘Way’ marker and you move.

There is no magic wand at the end of the Camino, trust me I looked! Between Muxía this week and St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago in July 2016, I was left feeling ‘undone’ in both places. I believe, for me, I am still on ‘The Way’.

To my fellow adventurers who might be reading, here are a few notes for you.

If you have the opportunity to walk a day, two days or even three weeks, take it. Take it and make no apologies for taking that time (a lesson I am still learning!)

Invest in a good pair of hiking/walking shoes, a bag and a journal. Check out the Irish Camino Society which has events and talks throughout the year. As many will know, Ireland has a rich Camino history.

Many believe the Camino is heavily linked to religion but it’s not. I am a practising Catholic and spirituality is important to me. On my first Camino, I attended mass every evening. I did that because it afforded me a window of time to sit and reflect (and pretend I know more Spanish than I do!) Some people might find that window of time sitting in a coffee shop or by a river instead, it’s your personal journey.

There is no rule book. There is no right way or wrong way. There are no set kilometres to walk every day. There’s just you and what you want to give and take.

All fitness levels, all ages, all sizes, all orientations, all religions can take part in the Camino. In 2016, I spent a day walking with a Bishop from Barbados. This time, Mary and I shared some steps with a student from Hungary and a retired man from Mexico. It’s open to everyone and all are welcome.

The more you put into anything, the more you get out and that’s especially relevant for the Camino.

You meet extraordinary people, you see extraordinary landscapes and most importantly, you learn something extraordinary about yourself.

Until we meet on ‘The Way’…

Buen Camino Amigos.


Maria travelled with Camino Ways. Click to read her entries for days one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight of her Camino.