Medieval Pilgrims from West Cork

In 1472 the Irish Chieftain Finghín Ó’Driceoil (d. 1472) and his son Tadhg made a pilgrimage to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

O’Driscoll More, Fineen, the son of Maccon, son of Maccon, son of Fineen, son of Donough God, died in his own house, after having performed the pilgrimage of St. James, and his son Teige died penitently one month after the death of his father, after having returned from the same pilgrimage.

Annals of the Four Masters 1472

Finghín resided at Baltimore castle (Dún na Séad) in the town of Baltimore Co Cork.

The castle was built by the Ó’Driceoil clan on the site of an earlier castle constructed in ‘1215 by the Anglo-Norman, Sleynie. It was the primary residence and centre of administration for the trading and piratical activities of the Ó’Driceoil family’. The castle is now restored and is a tourist attraction. It is a wonderful place to visit.

Information plaque detailing the history of Baltimore Castle

Given the Ó’Driceoil clan’s connections with trade and the sea, it is likely that Finghín and Tadhg used one of the family owned ships to sail to La Coruña. They would have continued to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela on foot.

Image of medieval boats

Pilgrimage to Santiago was for many of Ireland’s medieval elite a family tradition. We know that Finghín and Tadhg were following in the footsteps of at least one family member know as the Ó’Driceoil Óg. He had made pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the year 1445, but died during the return voyage from Spain.

View of the sea from Baltimore Pier

Finghín and Tadhg survived the journey to and from the shrine of St James but Finghín died ‘in his own house’ upon his return home and Tadhg died one month later. Perhaps the stresses of the journey had exacerbated underlying medical conditions.

View of the sea from Baltimore Castle

The sudden death of Finghín and Tadhg’s was no doubt a shock to the Ó’Driceoil family, they may have gained some comfort from knowing that the father and son had gained indulgences during their pilgrimage to St James shrine. It was widely believed at the time that an indulgence would have shortening the souls time in purgatory.

For anyone who wants to find out more about the medieval Irish pilgrims who travelled to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela you can check out my new book Journeys of Faith Stories of Pilgrimage from Medieval Ireland

I also highly recommend the book Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Sanitago de Compostela By Bernadette Cunningham.

One comment on “Medieval Pilgrims from West Cork

  1. Louise i have just finished your book – what a tremendous achievement, so well researched and with every aspect of pilgrimage covered. A fascinating and enlightening read- many congrats.

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