Coming of Age                                 PILGRIMAGE                                      Partnership     

-A journey, esp. a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion:  
-Any long journey, esp. one undertaken as a quest or for a votive purpose, such as to pay a journey to a sacred place or shrine.  
-A long journey or search, especially one of exalted purpose or moral significance.


  • Monuments – structures left o the landscape by earlier civilizations
  • Artifacts – moveable objects created by earlier civilizations
  • Megalithic Tomb. Built of large stones; burial chamber(s); roofed in stone; on an earthen mound; known as Dolmens, Cromlechs or Druid’s Altars. 4 categories:
  1. Court tombs (open court at entrance) used for relig. Ceremonies – face east, burials cremated; Before 3000 BC
  2. Portal Tombs – 3 or more stones w/ a capstone; usually Domlons (150 in Ireland) 2500-2000 BC 
  3. Passage Tombs round mond w/ passage into chamber. Neolithic age c4000-200 BC often faced w/ white guartz; found in concentrations (300 in Ireland) e.g. Newgrange
  4. Wedge Tombs; chamber that narrows and lowers – face winter setting sun. 400 in Ireland (100 in Burren, Co. Clare, Ireland) Early Bronz Age, after 2000BC 
  • Mounds, Carins & Barrows; Circular mounds; various sizes thru varying ages; usually burial mounds  
  • Ringfords 30-40K, most numerous; Neolithic to Mediaeval. Circular 25M to 50m in diameter; some oval or D shaped. “Rath” very common in Irish townland names.
  • Stone Forts. When the bank is a stone wall, then they are stone forts. Many have steps.
  • Hillforts and Promontory Forts – forts constructed on hills. Usually Iron Age. Often became defense strongholds. 
  • Stone Circles, mostly mid-Ulster and Cork/Kerry, also elsewhere; 180 in Ireland; Cork/Kerry best ones 4 to 17 m in diameter and p to 17 stones. Usually combined w/ alignments and burial areas; appear to be for rituals. Astronomical theories discredited
  • Standing Stones. Widespread. Varying height, max 5m. probably multi purpose – phallic; some have male and female pairs.
  • Ogham Stones; old writing mostly Cork, Kerry, Waterford. 
  • Holed Stones; small number of stones have holes perforated through them.; unclear as to purpose but connected to folklore re; fertility, childbirth, love making. Hands clasped through holes to seal love bargains. 
  • Petroglyphs, contain concentric rings, spiral and circles. Believed to be for ritual magical purposes. Associated w/ Bronze Age folks. 

*Buriel Tombs – Newgrange – pilgrimage aspect. While the astronomical significance of many of the sites has been discounted (at least as anything more than rudimentary astronomy), Newgrange appears to be an exception.... 



Few events change one’s life as deeply as a sacred pilgrimage—a journey that recharges the spirit, returns us to wholeness of mind and body, and brings clarity to our relationship with the divine. On Celtic Pilgrimage, Irish harpist Áine Minogue uses instrumental music and rich lyrical poetry to capture the full emotional spectrum of a pilgrimage. From the initial fears of unknown territory and the longing for home, to the new perspective and the rediscovery of joy we gain when the journey is complete, these eleven moving selections lead us on adventure in sound to remind us of the sacred road we all travel.

With Eugene Friesen on cello; Steve Gorn on Bansuri flutes; Scott Petito on keyboards, bass, and guitar; percussion by Chris Carey; and overtone singing by Baird Hersey. 

A personal letter from Aine

Buen Camino!

I have always loved old places or even land that had an old feel to it.  It was inevitable that having visited and loved so many sacred sites that the Camino de Santiago, which runs through the Celtic area of Spain known as Galecia, would eventually make the list.  This one was different, it involved a bit of walking.  The route stretches a full five hundred miles.   My journey began 300 miles from Santiago in Burgos, an accident of language and train schedules.  It ended in Finesterra, (tr: "end of the world") the more ancient end point by the sea.

In between was the journey or "Celtic Pilgrimage," one I've seen written about many times but rarely expressed through music.  In Ireland, pilgrimage has never really gone out of fashion and although not a common practice today, pilgrimage is making a resurgence in the modern West.

In any tradition, pilgrimage honors the sacred and powerful nature of places.  It provides a direct means for connection to miraculous events and people. Often physically and emotionally taxing, it is thought to be a humbling and transformative rite of passage.   

The three patron saints of Ireland, the well known St. Patrick, St. Brigid and St. Colmcille, each have their own pilgrimage sites, some dating to pre-Christian times. The tradition of climbing the mountain Croagh Patrick, often barefoot, has never waned.  People continue to visit the site of Patrick´s Purgatory. The pilgrimage sites of St. Brigid, a very complex ¨saint¨ connected to the Celtic Goddess Brigid, are numerous, if not as well known.  Brigid´s wells can be found throughout Ireland, containing waters that are believed to have curative powers.  St. Colmcille was himself a pilgrim monk.  

During the Middle ages, the three primary pilgrimage destinations were Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago in Northwestern Spain. There are several routes across Europe that lead to Santiago, however, the five hundred mile “French” route beginning in St. Jean Pied de Por, just over the French border, has remained virtually intact for over 1000 years and is traversed annually by over 70,000 pilgrims of all faiths from all over the world.

Originally I envisioned Celtic Pilgrimage as a sort of travelogue, a musical diary. But as often happens when one undertakes a journey, preconceived notions must be abandoned and the path itself becomes the destination. I find that although the outer pilgrimage is complete, my inner pilgrimage has not ended.  Will it ever? I invite you to follow the footsteps of the countless pilgrims that precede us and to begin your own sacred journey.

Buen Camino! 

Áine (Minogue)

"May the longtime sun shine on you 
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide you on your Way."(From 'Blessing' Celtic Pilgrimage, Traditional Celtic Blessing)


This album seeks to express the physical & spiritual landscape of a pilgrimage across Celtic sacred spaces, most specifically the Camino de Santiago, arguably the most active pilgrimage route in the world.

During the Middle ages, the three primary pilgrimage destinations were Jerusulem, Rome and Santiago in Northwestern Spain. There are several routes across Europe that lead to Santiago, however, the five hundred mile “French” route beginning in St. Jean Pied de Por - just over the French border - has remained virtually intact for over 1000 years.

My own journey began 300 miles from Santiago in Burgos, an accident of language and train schedules.  It ended in Finesterra, the more ancient end point by the sea.

They say that everyone has their own Camino and one of these day I may well share that journey in words, as opposed to just in music (Celtic Pilgrimage).  

I can however share practical tips with you; 
what to bring;
where to fly from and to;
where to start with research.

Then, when you get back, you can tell me your Camino stories.

What I can tell you is that it's virtually impossible to come away from this walk unchanged.  

A friend asked me – “is this some kind of a flailing thing?
No it’s not.  

Many cultures have had the wisdom to pass on the value of walking a distance for several days at a time to a specific site. They would have walked to the place of a saint of holy man/woman. Newgrange has been around since before the pyramids. Stonehenge, Avebury, some of the most ancient monuments on the planet were and continue to be pilgrimage sites.

Why go on one? It’s a little hard to explain. Suffice it to say that walking day after day, with everything you need (or are going to get) on your back, without the encumbrance and anesthesia of life’s pleasures or distractions simply does something to you.

The facades of life’s trappings are left at home. Everyone looks pretty much the same, light clothes, a hat and a backpack – nothing to hide behind. No one cares much what you do for a living. This eco-system is interested in where you started your journey; whether you intend to go to Finisterra; (more on this later) and who you met…

The facades of outer ‘personality’ tend to disappear. You’re likely to meet your dinner companions brushing their teeth in the hostel at 6a.m. the next morning, so there’s just no point in being wildly charming…. It’s too exhausting to keep up. So another façade drops off.  

When you remain facadeless for long enough, there’s nothing to stop what’s inside from spilling out…. Years of long forgotten memories tend to come back over the longs hours in the Spanish sun.  

People spend time in anger, grief and even extatic states. But, mostly you’re just walking, and when you get to a certain point in the walk, by a certain time in the day, you start to let everything go.  That is, unless you want your head to explode.

You simply cannot walk day after day, without finally doing the thing that the universe has always been asking you to do – to just drop into your body and be on the earth one moment at a time, with no more thoughts running through your head, but just the desire to put one foot in front of the other, one step and one moment at a time.

I joked to a friend of mine who is a philosopher/religious scholar ‘you should do this thing – I didn’t have a spiritual thought in five weeks.’  He congratulated me on my ‘post spiritual’ status but asked if I would pray for a friend in any event!  

Were it not so extraordinarly grounding, it would have been almost disappointing…. It was really simple, eat, sleep, put one foot in front of the other, go to a holy place every day for a few minutes, light a candle; do some little thing for a fellow traveler, and mind your own business after that as best you can… That’s it! Yeah, pretty much – that’s it. The big answer to the big question.

The path to divinity was paved with the practical consideration of being in a body, a physical body that seemed to need a fair amount of attention and that knew it’s own limits and possibilities without too much interference except to do the best I could. A physical body that I needed to take care of so that it didn’t fall to someone else to do my own work.

‘So, is this some kind of Catholic thing of something?” another friend asked.  
It is for many, but most of the pilgrims I met were not. Many of the folks on my path happened to be Buddhists, some were of no faith. There’s an unspoken rule on the Camino that you don’t ask anyone “why’ they’re doing it. It’s considered too personal. But, you make friends. And, such things get discussed.

I met a man who was going home to die; another to cease dying and get into the joy of living again after a prolonged period of grief. Many couples intending to marry walk the path together. They feel if they can walk together, they can probably live together for the duration. Many people made big decisions on the Camino.  

No, it’s not a flailing thing or a Catholic thing or any thing. I couldn’t tell you why I decided to do it – I could only say that I felt ‘drawn’ to it and got slightly annoyed when people questioned me. “I just wanted to.” That’s the answer.  

All that said, if you feel 'drawn' to the Camino and wonder if you can do it alone, perhaps this information may be of help to you. I can tell you that if anyone had told me (after having spent a fair amount of my adult life with chronic back-pain) that I would walk 350 miles, I would have said they were insane. There's an old saying "patience will take a straw to Jerusalem on a snail's back."  

There are people who do the Camino over a ten year period, going back each summer for ten days and doing five miles a day. (over ten years - that's 500 miles)  Seventy Thousand people travel the Camino path each year and I'm pretty sure that they're not all ultra-fit. There are the very old who only do a few miles. And the ultra fit who can cover twenty-five miles in a day.  

When I returned from the Camino, someone asked me if it is true that it is really grueling. Yes, it's true. It can be beyond difficult, and take you to limits you didn't know existed. There is pain, both physical, spiritual and emotional, but it is doable. Even those who find they have to leave the walk tend to leave the experience having gained something. Some have considered the humility of having to walk away to be the wisdom they gained from The Way.

All that said, along with the birth of my wonderful son, it was a major highlight of my life. And, yes - in both cases - I forgot the pain:)

As they say on the walk "Buen Camino" (Good Camino).


By John O Donohue

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

Equipment list for walking the Camino
(El Camino de Santiago)

This is exactly what I needed, no more and no less. 
I won't ever try to tell you Not to bring more.
We all do.
Then, we make a trip to the post office to send it home ;)

Buen Camino, 

Got most of my stuff at REI  ( it's a favorite.   Great US Company!   (nope, not on commission ;)

Temps in Spain in Summer on the Camino are really high by day.  It's a good rule of thumb to buy gear that has SPF protection built in.  In terms of backpack weight, for women  - no more than 10% of bodyweight.  And since the camel pak (for water) carries 1 1/2 litres, things get fairly exact.  I'm counting ounces here - so here goes: 

THE BIG STUFF   (See links below to each specific product)
* On road shoes - runners or boots, your choice, broken in
* Backpack (see links to videos below for packing info)
* Backpack cover  (for the plane and in Galecia, rains a lot)
* Camel Pack (water container fitted into the backpack, get valve on mouthpiece to avoid leaking)
* Sleeping Bag Liner (silk, not the mummy shaped ones - uncomfy)
* Headlamp
* Convertible pants (trousers to Shorts) X 2
* Shirts (sun protection, long sleeved if light skinned) X2
* Fleece Jacket (X1) cold early morning, late evening
* Lightweight wool socks (X2)
* Light weight undersocks (X2 or X4)
* Rainjacket (merrell is a favorite brand in this instance)
* Lightweight travel towel ( X1)
* Hat (with built in sunscreen.  Consider one that covers the back of your neck
* light nightshirt for bedtime (I used an ultralight dress)
* off road shoes (you won't be on the trail all the time) 

First aid kit:
Add to kit: Mosquito repellant (just a few sample size sachets of cream) only needed it one day.
Earplugs (for sleeping).  (bring extras for fellow pilgrims - you'll make friends fast;) 
Blister kit (second skin, needle & thread (trust me, take it), extra bandaids
Sunscreen; separate one for your face (travel size) (pack in front pockets of backpack so they're near at hand.  I applied sunscreen about 5 times a day!)
Lots of zip lock bags (in case rain gets into you backpack and for the showers at the hostels).
Shampoo: Initially, use for soap, shampoo and washing clothes, then buy as you go.
Safety pins for pinning laundry to back pack to dry as you walk  (bring a dozen, great for hanging clothes on line, etc.)
Travelsize toothbrush & toothpaste
Lip gloss (so you still feel like a girl after several weeks of walking)
Compact camera (preferably shock proof and water proof)
Small notebook and pen

Magnesium tablets (ask for the Farmacia)
Small pocket size pack of tissues
Wintergreen or some muscle helper
Sunscreen and shampoo, etc. as needed.

Rule of thumb (If you're crossing the Pyrenees, you may need boots)
For all else - runners/sneekers/trainers should do just fine.  You can ask around and go with what you think will work best for you.

How to Choose Hiking Footwear:

Breaking in Hiking Boots:


Off-Road shoes:
Consider  (protection for toes, waterproof for use in the shower, do they dry overnight, could be used with backpack for short distances if feet get seriously overheated.



Finding your torso and hip size:

Adjusting the fit of  your backpack:

How to Hoist a Loaded Backpack:

How to pack your backpack:
Opinions vary.  I happened to like the heavy stuff around my hips and lighter stuff up top.  I found if  I put the heavier stuff between my shoulder, it threw me off balance.  This video's advice seems better suited to men than women.  A good rule of thumb for women:  Where do you carry children?  If low on your hips -   Put the weight there.   If against you in your middle - put it there.   You already know your weight center….  

Backpack Brands:

Lots of great ones.  Osprey is a favorite around here. 

Yip, after all that, the backpack is Not waterproof. (water gets in through zippers)
You'll need this for air-travel and in Galecia where it tends to rain a lot.

The lightest ones you can find.
Supposedly, there's an entire art to walking with poles.  Frankly, I found none of it useful.  However, it's tough to make it to Santiago without them.  It's dem downward hills!

The 'camel-pack' i.e. a big bag of water goes inside the Backpack.  " Look Maw, no hands."   There is a flexible 'straw' of sorts that hangs down over your shoulder, so when you need a drink - it's readily available. 
NOTE:  Whatever camel pak you decide on, make sure the mouthpiece has a valve, otherwise, it's likely to leak.

I was advised that I didn't need a  heavy sleeping bag unless traveling during the colder months.   These come in the shape of a mummy sleeping back.  go w/ the rectangular one - it really helps - much more comfy.

HEADLAMP (Flashlight)
The lightest one you can find; for getting up in the middle of the night in the dark; in case you start on the road before or during sunset; for reading after lights out.
Don't bring a handheld - too heavy; your hands will be busy with other things (e.g. while walking - with walking poles)

CLOTHES  NOTE:  All clothes should have built in sun protection (applies to hat also)
Convertible pants (X 2) (can upzip bottoms; inbuilt sun protection)
(perfect - lots of pockets.  Built in sunscreen if you don't feel like applying sunscreen. 

Shirts (X2) (in built sun protection)
(if you're very light skinned, consider long sleeves.  I got short sleeves and regretted it - applied sunscreen 5 times daily!)

Fleece Jacket (X 1)
(be careful - stuff can fall out of the pockets.  Use your convertible pants for pockets)

SOCKS.  Almost as important as the shoes in terms of blister prevention.
heavy socks (X2)

Light undersocks (2-4 pairs) worn underneath heavy socks

Rainjacket: (ultra-light)
Don't buy this.  Buy the Merrell version.  Be sure it has zipped underarm ventilation. 

Travel towel (X1)
(don't panic, you'll get used to it)