The Book of Pilgrims to Santiago is a leather bound ledger, made in Ireland and held in St James’s Church, James St. Dublin and records the names of those pilgrims who have received a Camino Certificate or Compostela and have requested to have their names included in the Book. The book is handcrafted, bound in leather and was made in Rathfarnham Dublin by Des Breen of Antiquarian Bookcrafts.
Names are inscribed in the Book of Pilgrims by experienced calligraphers, in a style reminiscent of entries in the Book of Kells. The individual styles of the calligraphers, Ann Shouldice, Kevin Honan and Noeleen Freine who are members of the Irish calligraphy association Peannaraí, are clearly seen.
While they faithfully record the names of pilgrims who have reached Santiago, they also embellish the work with fine drawing and margin notes of poetry, quotation and musings. These margin notes (marginalia) are part of an old tradition used by Irish scribes which is charming in its quirkiness. As they copied the learned or sacred texts the scribes occasionally wrote a personal note in the margin. Sometimes it was a note of protest at the working conditions and other times a work of poetry.
Beautiful writing is almost as old as humankind. The sacred books from the monastic period in Ireland are probably the highest achievements of Irish Art.
Calligraphy still survives in the digital age and is freer than ever to embody the mood and meaning of a text in colour, form and style, using all the rich expressive means of modern art.
The Book of Pilgrims to Santiago is a project aimed at connecting again with the great monastic tradition of the Book and at the same time supporting and acknowledging the work of modern Irish calligraphers.
The act of sitting paying attention to the breath, as in Zen; the act of putting pen to paper , as in calligraphy and the act of setting out on the road to Santiago, marking the path with your feet as the scribe marks the page - all these are connected.
Commemorate your pilgrimage and support this special Irish contribution to the Camino.
Send a photocopy of your Compostela (non-returnable) with a €10 donation to the Secretary, Camino Society Ireland, 36 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4, with the name to be inscribed in the Book printed clearly on the photocopy.
Click the video on the right to view a documentary on the Book of Pilgrims.