Minutes of AGM 2020
CAMINO SOCIETY IRELAND C.L.G.(557712)
Minutes of Annual General Meeting of Members for 2020.
Date/time. Saturday 30th January 2021 at 14.00 (G.M.T.)
Location. Held virtually via Zoom.
In attendance. Twenty-five members.
Apologies. Turlough O’Donnell. Fr Eugene Taaffe.
Chair. Brendan J. Smyth, deputising for Turlough O’Donnell.
The Chair called the meeting to order at 14.05 and confirmed that the meeting was quorate within the Constitution of the Company.
At the request of the Chair, Joe Maguire, who hosted the virtual meeting, explained the functions available to those participating including the manner by which each recorded his/her vote. In addition he explained how one raised a query during the meeting by either raising one’s hand or by a message board on screen. Jim McNicholas was appointed by Joe to control the various Zoom functions from Jim’s location.
Before turning to the business of the meeting the Chair wished to welcome all joining via Zoom and particular a welcome to:
David Kelly recently co-opted as a director to the Board who had been and would continue to be of invaluable assistance to the Board and Members.
The Chair turned to the business of the Agenda and reminded those present that Covid-19 restrictions prevented the Company from holding a physical meeting of Members. He confirmed that the Notice of AGM with copy audited accounts for year-end 31st December 2019 and proxy form had been issued to all current Members by e-mail on the 11th December 2020.
Two proxies had been returned to the Company.
The Chair addressed the following items in the order in which they appeared on the Agenda for the meeting.
1.Accounts for year ending 31st December 2019. The Chair invited the Treasurer, Deirdre Lillis, to report and she informed as follows.
1.1. As the Board reported at the last AGM, the Society had been working to instal an up-to-date accounting software for accurate financial and stock record keeping. The Xero system was finally and fully installed towards the end of 2019. On your behalf I want to thank Betty for her great help in bringing that to a conclusion.
Although COVID-19 restrictions have greatly restricted the opportunity for normal business, Xero has proved to be a boon for updating the Board at its monthly meetings, although since March 2020 these meetings are largely by e-mail. Xero is also proving extremely useful in keeping track of stocks in hand. Our licence from Xero costs € 26-00 per month.
1.2. All Members have been circulated with the full set of the 2019 audited accounts and reports prepared by Lewis & Co, who have been the Society’s auditors since incorporation. I will not go over all the items that make up the accounts but will deal with any queries that you may have. But I would like to clarify some items in the accounts; the figures are in the Supplementary Information on page 15 of the accounts.
1.2.1 Income for 2019 was €63,301-00, down by €20,163-00 on 2018 figure. The difference is somewhat distorted due to one-off income of €17,670-00 from the phenomenally successful Westport Festival in April 2018. Removing that one-off reduces the difference in income, between these two years, to a more realistic €2,493-00.
1.2.2. Expenses for 2019 were €63,031-00, down by €16,854-00 on the 2018 figure of €79,885-00. Again the difference is somewhat distorted due to the one-off Westport Festival expenses of €14,495-00. Removing that one-off expense reduces the difference between 2019 and 2018 to a more realistic €2,089-00.
1.2.3. We finished 2019 with a very modest profit of €270-00 which meets the Board’s criteria to operate, as best it can, on a more or less break-even basis.
1.2.4. Bank credit balance as at year end 2019 was €30,900-00
1.2.5.I want to mention passports: income for 2018 and 2019 was, similar. We considered this a good achievement. The Treasurer asked if Betty Tuite if she would, at this stage, give more particulars of the position on passport number and income. Betty informed the meeting.
“Over the four years to the end of 2019 the Society sold in numbers 18,460 passports. Giving an average annual sale of 4,615.
Over those four years the total income generated by passport sales amounted to €155,203, giving an average annual sales income of €38,801.
Review of records show the busiest months for passport sales where March through to September with an average monthly sale of approximately 350-400 passports.
Passport sales for y/e 2019 were 4,938 made up of 2255 Booklets and 2683-Fold-out passports.”
Betty then mentioned the effect of Covid-19 restrictions on Passport sales/Membership.
“Our total number of passports sold to y/e 2020 was 1965 which produced an income of approximately €13,500-00. That is almost 2,700 less sold than in the previous four years which equates to a loss of income of approximately €20,000-00/€25,000-00.
With no end of Covid-19 restrictions in sight it would appear that the Society will be faced with a greatly reduced income from passport sales and Membership income for the foreseeable future.
Our Membership total for y/e 2020 was 265. For y/e 2019 it was 405 resulting in a loss of expected income of € 2,800-00.”
The Treasurer thanked Betty for her report and then asked if anyone had any queries on the accounts?
Sean McCarthy enquired about the type of audit of the Company’s accounts that would be most appropriate. The Treasurer asked the Chair to respond to Sean’s query.
Brendan responded by pointing out that the Company, being incorporated in Ireland, had to submit annually, accounts to the Registrar of Companies. Lewis & Co had been the auditors of them Company since its incorporation and were of great assistance in tailoring the Zero accounting application to the needs of our business. Whilst the Xero software was being tailored and installed it was felt by the Board that a full audit should be undertaken annually. Brendan explained that as Xero was now operational it would be more appropriate to have an accountant’s report annually, rather than an auditor’s report. Brendan said that only yesterday he had negotiated, subject to Board approval, with Lewis & Co for an accountant’s report for year-end 2020 at approximately 50% less than the fee for an auditor’s report. Sean confirmed that that dealt with his query.
1.3. The Treasurer asked if anyone else had any queries?
There being no other queries the Treasurer asked Members present to approve the 2019 accounts and reports. This was carried by a unanimous vote in favour.
1.4. The Treasurer then said before finishing her report, she needed to mention the unanticipated, sledge- hammer blow that the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions, have had upon the Company’s financial position.
“The unaudited figures for year-end 2020 showed-Income Jan – Feb 2020 was €11,628 averaging €5814 each month; expenses Jan-Feb were €9093 averaging €4546. This left a profit at end of February 2020 of €2535. Covid-19 Restrictions were introduced in March 2020 and for that month our income had fallen to €983 and our expenses had risen €7059 giving a loss of €3541 as at end of March 2020. It is true that the Company had some large outlay in early March (Auditor fees for 2019 accounts; donations to charitable causes; salary/tax). At a hastily convened Board by e-mail in March 2020 it was resolved that wherever possible the Society must restrict unnecessary expenses to preserve the Society’s Bank cash credit. It was, and remains, the view of the Board that monies will be required to rejuvenate the Society; to re-stock items that have passed their sell by date and to refurbish the Information Office to comply with health & safety requirements arising out of Covid-19. I want to pay a very particular thanks to Betty for the sacrifice made forgoing her salary entitlement from April 2020 without which the Society would be in a much worse financial situation.
The Board has managed to preserve the cash reserves at the Bank at y/e 2020 at approximately €30,000-00, having incurred a loss of €2030 for the year.
In April 2020, the Board thought it would be business as usual by August/ September 2020. But that was over optimistic and there is still no end in sight for the total removal of Covid-19 restrictions. The Board continues to take steps to safeguard the Society’s cash reserves by minimising expenses as far as possible.
Unfortunately, the Company will also have a loss of Membership income in 2021. Due to the Society’s inability to provide any meaningful activities, information, and assistance to Members during 2020, the Board on the 8th December agreed that paid up Members for 2020 would have their membership transferred to 2021 with fee of €0-00 or a refund of 2020 fees paid to those who requested it.
1.5. During the year 2019 we made the following donations.
Sr Katherine to assist her excellent work in Santiago €2,000-00
Fundacion Aogida (Pilgrim Office Santiago) €1,000-00
CSJ Rabanal € 200-00
Basin St. School €2,000-00
Sybil Yates (pilgrim accommodation Santiago) € 300-00
The were some various small donations totalling €2323-00.
That concludes my report to this AGM.”
That concluded the Treasurer’s report and the Chair thanked her for the very comprehensive detail.
2.Review of Company’s activities since last AGM (18th May 2019).
The Chair explained that there were a number of sub-Committees looking after the business of the Society and he would ask the Chair of each to update on activities.
He called Joe, as Chair of the Members ‘sub-Committee, to report on the Company’s activities since the last AGM. Joe reported as follows.
2.1. Membership sub-committee
2.1.1. New fold-out passports were introduced and had proved extremely popular in pre-Covid-19 restrictions. We still offer for sale both the booklet and the fold-out passports. In 2019 Sales of booklets were2255 and fold-out 2683.
2.1.2. We had a visit from an American choir (Vox Peregrini) to St. James’s Church on the 4th July 2019 when they performed a wonderful concert of sacred Gregorian and Latin music after having walked from Glendalough to Dublin.
2.1.3. John Rafferty generously donated 300 copies of “Call to the Camino” which he permitted us to sell and retain the proceeds. The book flew off the shelves and we thank him very much for that generous gesture.
2.1.4. His Excellency, the Spanish Ambassador invited several Members to a Miro exhibition at Spanish Embassy 19th Sept 2019.A very warm and hospitable evening.
2.1.5. Culture night in Dublin was the 20th of Sept 2019 for which the St. James’s Church was open in the evening to the public.300-400 attended, much interest being shown in a calligraphy display, display of the Pilgrim Book and general Camino information.
2.1.6. We also organised a whole series of walks for Members and Friends.
March 23rd 2019, we had a walk at Slieve Gullion. Expertly mapped, surveyed, organised, and guided by Eric Rankin.
29th July 2019 we supported a charity walk along Bray Camino organised by “Follow the Camino”.
3rd Aug 2019 at Three Rock Mountain, Dublin.
10th August 2019 walk at Ticknock in bad weather.
20th July 2019 to Loughcrew-thanks to Betty for organising
4th Oct 2019 at the invitation of the Drogheda Camino Society we joined their walk along Boyne Valley. Eric, David, and Jim organised our Members.
16th November 2019 walk Howth Head. Thanks to Caoimhin O’Laoi for help with this.
28th December 2019 at Durrow. Thanks to Catherine+ Susan for their help organising.
25th January2020 Bora Bog walk. One of the most successful walks with over 100 turning up. 29th Feb 2020 Waterford Green Way with an Information session on the Camino.
2.1.7. We organised in 2019 our annual Information Days Information days in Dublin (15th Feb), Cork (22Feb), Galway (18th Apr), and Tralee (3rd Mar), Nenagh, Sligo (27 Feb), Waterford (29th Feb), Belfast (two Saturdays in Feb+ two in Mar). Thurles (6th Feb).
2.1.8. In consultation with Fr. Eugene Taaffe and with great assistance from Betty we organised a series ‘Going Away’ ceremonies in the side Chapel at St. James’s when Fr Eugene imparted a blessing to travelling pilgrims and presented each Pilgrim with a scallop shell.
2.1.9. Before concluding his sub-Committee report, Joe asked Michael Walsh to report on additional activities.
Naomh Gobnait Restoration Project.
I and Pat Gibbs attended the launch of the Naomhóg Project in the Maritime Museum in Vigo in June 2019, along with Turlough O Donnell. The Launch organised by Manuel Lara and was officially opened by The Irish Ambassador to Spain, H.E. Síle Maguire. This event coincided with the first showing of the film The Camino Voyage (subtitled in Galego) in Spain. A huge crowd attended including the Crew of the Naomhóg, the Film production team and many of Danny Sheehy’s family and friends. A great night of Culture, song and music followed cementing the great connection between Ireland and Galicia.
As Joe has already reported numerous Information days were held in 2019, the ones that I was involved with were as follows.
Cork; Midleton, organised by Grainne Keating, in a local community Centre, a huge crowd,approx. 100 attended. It was a great success, a combination of Committee Members, Betty and local volunteers were available for one to one meetings with prospective pilgrims and the new Information Booklet was a major asset to the day.
Tralee-Landers’ . We used Landers’ Outdoor Store for the first time, and they had a major part in advertising the event. A full house, again with a combination of committee members, and local volunteers, including some who came from Wicklow ensured a successful night. A special mention of the late GERRY ENRIGHT who assisted on the night. Gerry passed away later that summer while he was on the Camino. May he rest in peace
Nenagh- Tennis Club, organised by Ann Fitzpatrick. A huge crowd attended and again the combination of Committee members, Betty and local volunteers ensured that a great day had by all. A walk organised by the local Walking Club followed.”
That concluded the report for the Members’ sub-Committee and the Chair thanked Joe, Michael, the sub-Committee Members and all the helpers and volunteers who made the activities a success.
2.2. The Chair then called on Pat Gibbs to report on behalf of the Information Office sub-Committee of which he is Chair. He reported.
Information Office sub-Committee
“As most people know the Information Office has been closed since the first introduction of the Covid-19 restrictions. I really miss being involved in the Office, meeting volunteers talking with visitors, intending Pilgrims, and dispensing general information. I regard my involvement as being the next best thing to being on Camino. Until such time as Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed, sufficient to enable the office to re-open, it will remain closed. Whenever re-opening is permitted it will, no doubt, involve a complete H&S check, sanitising stations, review of safety for all volunteers. I want to conclude my report by recording my thanks for the dedicated work by all volunteers in making the office such a success with a particular thanks to Fr. Eugene for his support and wise advice.
On a point of information: The display in Vigo, referred to by Michael, can be easily reached by train from Santiago and is a most worthwhile visit.”
The Chair thanked Pat for his report.
2.3. The Chair then called for Lesley to report on behalf of the Spanish sub-Committee. Lesley reported.
The Spanish sub-Committee
“The Spanish Sub-committee disbanded at the end of 2019, as it felt that any contact with Spain could best be done by individuals at the request of other sub-committees. Since then several of us have been involved in writings and translations, in conjunction with Sister Katherine in particular, namely Noirin Ui Mhaolaí and Mary de Paor.
Speaking personally, my part of a deal struck with John Rafferty in November last, when he sent me his article on the then current state of the Camino, was to write an article for the Redemptorist Fathers, who publish his writings. They were doing a series of features on ‘Journeying through Advent with a Christian Compass’. I submitted this in English. A few weeks later, the request came through that this article be published on the Cathedral website but that the ending would have to be amended to focus instead on the Holy Year. So I translated the passage into Spanish, having changed the last paragraph accordingly and sent it off.
On December 31st, I attended via Zoom, the ceremony of the Opening of the Holy Door, a very dignified and impressive event. The interior of the Cathedral is magnificent after all the restoration work completed. However, the lack of people was very striking, as the authorities were working under severe restrictions. The streets outside were strewn (as opposed to packed as normal) with masked onlookers and inside individual seating had been arranged to allow for distancing. Hopefully, we will all get a chance to enter the Cathedral via the Holy Door before December 31st, 2022 when it will be closed again.
In November last, John Rafferty, living in Santiago, who last walked the Camino Francés in October, made the following comments:
‘Throughout all of Spain there is a curfew, here from 10pm to 6am. Travel outside the city is not permitted. Several times I have seen police issue on-the-spot fines for people not wearing facemasks.
I think that this period of local restrictions that cannot be predicted will continue for some time and so whilst the Camino is open, as is the country, I am advising pilgrims not to start unless they speak Spanish very well and have enough money to deal with any contingency.
Of course a lot has happened since then. According to the Correos, the Spanish postal service, website this morning:
‘The forecasts for international travel in 2021 are not very favourable. The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has announced that the country will not have international tourists until after the summer. These are statements made at the recent meeting of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organisation, not current regulations.’
According to the Prime Minister, tourists will only be able to come to Spain once they have reached 70% of the population vaccinated against Covid, at the earliest in the autumn.’
In all of this, John asks us to remember the locals. He remarked as one hostel owner said to him in Hornillos, “We don’t have a word for what is happening to our economy. Take the word “desastre” add it to the word “catástrofe” and multiply by 100 you will have an underestimation of what is going on.” That concludes my report.”
The Chair thanked Lesley for her report.
2.4. Pilgrims ‘Book sub-Committee.
David reported on the Book and confirmed that errors which had been spotted in the writing on the cover of the book had now been corrected. There has been virtually no activity on the Book due to Covid-19 restrictions in place although we have a leaflet advertising the Book ready to hand out once Camino activity returns.
The Chair thanked David for his report.
2.5. Communications sub-Committee.
The Chair called on Jim to report as Chair of the sub-Committee. Jim reported:
Shamrocks & Shells thanks to David Smith.
4 editions in 2019 with 40 post. 28k views.
2 editions in 2020 with 14 post. 9.5k views
David is keen to get back up and running and hopes to do so as soon as he has enough contributions from Members. He requests that Members give immediate thought to providing articles for the Newsletter.
Michael & Betty. Lots of activity in 2019 but slower in 2020 as expected.
Society Updates & News.
“Shoutouts” one page email...Not very active in 2020 with just 2 updates, one to members and the other to our mailing list. In 2019 we sent 12. Covering walks and other information.
With 1833 Subscribers on our mailing list, we need to engage with them more this year.
Audio from A Living Word by Mike Timms, 6 pieces each containing 5 x 2minutes.
One more to be added when it is available from RTE.
Call of the Camino by Brian Leyden.
All with permission from RTE Radio.
Bray Celtic Camino by Dr David Owens & Mike Timms. 1500 views.
Carlos Nunez from Galicia Tourism.
In 2019 we had 22k visit to the website with 15.6k of them unique visitors. Compared to 11.8k & 8.2 in 2020...about half. Most popular pages: Home Page, Passports, Celtic Camino, and the Info Centre
New Introduction to the Camino Booklet launched.
New Passport Booklet launched, based on the design of the fold-out passport.
New Celtic Camino Compostela...errors corrected and better-quality paper...it looks like parchment paper.”
The Chair thanked Jim for his detailed report. As this concluded the reports from the various sub-Committees, the Chair dealt with remaining items of business.
3.Election of three directors compulsorily retired under Companies Act 2014 and standing for re-election.
The Chair explained that under Company law each year several of the incumbent directors had to retire, but they could put themselves forward to the AGM for re-election. The three who are retiring - Jim McNicholas, Joe Maguire and Brendan J. Smyth have consented to re-election, if agreed by the AGM. The Chair then called for separate proposers and seconders for each separately.
Jim Mc Nicholas-Proposed by Michael Sherlock-seconded by Michael Walsh. There being no objectors he was elected unanimously.
Joe Maguire-Proposed by Jim McNicholas-seconded by Padraig Mac Sweeney. There being no objectors he was elected unanimously.
Brendan J. Smyth-Proposed by Joe Maguire-seconded by Jim McNicholas-There being no objectors he was elected unanimously.
4.Propose election of David Kelly co-opted as director.
The Chair explained that David had been co-opted to the Board on the 8th December 2020. Under Company law his co-option had to be laid before the AGM for approval/rejection. The Chair called for proposer and seconder.
David Kelly-Proposed by Jim McNicholas-seconded by Eric Rankin. There being no objectors David’s co-option was confirmed unanimously.
5.Proposed reappointment of statutory auditors to the Company.
The Chair explained that Lewis & Co had been auditors to the Company since its registration as an LLG. Through passage of time they had become very familiar with the nature of business conducted by the Company and had a good, friendly working relationship with the Company personnel. The Chair further explained that, whilst it was a matter for those present to decide, he recommended that Lewis & Co be reappointed and that the Board of Directors be authorised to negotiate their fees. The Chair so proposed, seconded by Michael Sherlock. There being no objection the proposal was carried unanimously.
The asked if anyone had any other business to raise. No one raising any the Chair said he had one item to mention.
Fr Eugene Taaffe has found it necessary to retire as a director effective immediately. Fr. Eugene had explained to the Chair the previous week that he had to make himself available to carry out anticipated Diocesan administrative functions which could prove to be a very full engagement. The Chair said, on behalf of all Members, he wished to thank Fr. Eugene for his very valuable support to the Membership; for his enthusiasm for all things Camino; for his contribution by way of advice from time to time and of course for the use of the invaluable facilities provided by the Information Office. We wished him a trouble free and productive future.
There being no other business the Chair called the meeting to a close by giving thanks to Joe for hosting the Zoom, for Jim working knobs and whistles for all those who contributed by words or by their presence on-line.
Meeting concluded 15.20.