A new Kerry tourism asset hoping to attract walkers and pilgrims from all over the world is expected to raise around €9million for the county’s economy.
The Kerry Camino, a 57km trail offering hill-walkers and pilgrims an opportunity to “Walk in the Footsteps of St Brendan the Navigator” has been launched by Mike Barry – the first Irishman to reach the South Pole.
The maiden journey began with an Ecumenical Prayer Service and unveiling ceremony at St John’s Church Tralee which was followed by the walk along the 18km first leg of the Kerry Camino route.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaelteacht Affairs Jimmy Deenihan TD, who also attended the launch, said: “The Dingle Way is one of Ireland’s most natural and marketable assets.
“It incorporates a unique character drawn from its unequalled diversity of landscapes and seascapes while offering a sensory experience of sight and sound throughout the journey.
“Anyone who travels to the Kerry Camino will enjoy the great culture that exists not only in Tralee and Dingle but everywhere in between including the beaches, the music and landscape.”
Fáilte Ireland’s Fiona Buckley said that Kerry is best positioned to maximise the economic potential from walking holidays.
Each year over 250,000 visitors to the Camino in Spain complete the 100km distance and gather the number of stamps that are required to receive their “credencial” and ultimately receive a “compostela” or certificate.
Similar to the Camino de Santiago in Spain, walkers travelling along the Kerry Camino will receive a log-book and will need to gather stamps at 15 stations along the route before receiving a certificate.
Chairman of the Kerry Camino Committee Dr Séamus O’Donovan, said: “The team behind the Kerry Camino project is mostly made up of committed local people who wish to encourage walkers to our beautiful part of the world.
“To this end we decided that an initial stretch from Tralee to Dingle would be with our abilities given the financial constraints of the country at this time.
“It is planned that we will extend it out to the rest of the Dingle Way and we are inviting pub and accommodation providers to register with us going forward.”
The Dingle Way is a well-serviced, moderate, family-friendly trail, as it passes through the centre of many picturesque villages and towns.
Tralee and Dingle are the two largest town centres, where more specialist items needed for the journey should be bought.
Among the local businesses who helped make the Kerry Camino were singwriter Joe Flynn, EF Signs, Tralee Printing Works, Kingdom Printers, Kerry Recharge, NEKD, 24/7 Cabs, Tralee Chamber Alliance and Kerry County Council.
The Tralee and Dingle Rotary Clubs provided financial sponsorship, while the Grand Hotel provided the committee with meetings rooms. Hilsers Jewellers sponsored the posts en route.
Route packs are available in Tralee from the Fáilte Ireland Tourist Office, Tralee Chamber Alliance office, Tralee Tourist Kiosk, The Grand Hotel, Hilser’s Jewellers and Landers Outdoor Specialists.
Full details of the Kerry Camino route go to www.kerrycamino.com.
KERRY CAMINO – THE ROUTE
DAY 1 – Tralee to Camp – Distance: 18km | Ascent: 200m | Time: 7hrs
DAY 2 – Camp to Annascaul – Distance: 17km | Ascent: 270m | Time: 6.5hrs
DAY 3 – Annascaul to Dingle – Distance: 22km | Ascent: 340m | Time: 8hrs