Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela – Bernadette Cunningham.
There has been a tremendous resurgence of interest in pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In this book the author reveals a story of a much longer connection between Ireland and the pilgrimage than previously thought. Stories of men and women who went from Ireland to Santiago de Compostela in the Middle Ages tell of Irish involvement in one of the major pilgrimages of the medieval Christian world. The long and hazardous journey by land and sea to the shrine of St James in Galicia was not undertaken lightly. This innovative book explores the varied influences on and motivations of the pilgrims, as well as the nature of medieval travel, in order to understand when, why and how pilgrims from Ireland went to Santiago in the heyday of the pilgrimage, between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. It draws on official documents, historical chronicles, literary texts, saints’ lives and archaeological finds to uncover stories of those Anglo-Norman and Gaelic pilgrims who ventured beyond the confines of their local communities in search of salvation and perhaps a little adventure. Included in the book is the story of Margaret O’Carroll of Croghan and Killeigh. Mairgréag Ní Chearbhaill undertook the pilgrimage in the jubilee year of 1445. Mairgréag was an independent-minded woman. The daughter of Tadhg Ailbhe Ó Cearbhaill, lord of Éile Ely O Carroll who had died in 1407, she married An Calbhach Ó Conchobhair Fáilghe who succeeded his father, Murchadh, as head of the neighbouring lordship in 1421. An Calbhach enjoyed a reign of more than thirty years from c. 1425 until shortly before his death in 1458. The marriage between An Calbhach and Mairgréag was almost certainly part of a political strategy to help consolidate Gaelic power within the region, on the frontier zone with the English Pale. Their principal residence was located on the west side of Croghan hill. Both families were patrons of the arts and of the church, and Mairgréag’s father-in-law, Murchadh Ó Conchobhair Fáilghe, had been the founder of the Franciscan friary at Killeigh, Co. Offaly, in 1394. That friary became the family’s burial place.