A bit of a longer blog this time. Rather than the usual monthly blog, I decided to extend it to include the first part of June also, which would take me up to the end of my time in Ireland. I’ve had the most amazing few months – the kindness and support has far 333exceeded my expectations, and I am truly grateful to each and everyone of you x
The first week of May saw me heading for Ardara, Rossbeg, Lettermacaward, Dungloes where I planned to to the Dungloe Parkrun, ending the week in Crolly.
I had a lovely welcome at Maghera Beach by Chris Patterson….. and sheep! It made me feel quite at home, as sheep and cattle are a common sight where I live on the Gower Peninsular in South Wales.
I had the opportunity to be interviewed on The Ray Darcy Show on RTE1. Media coverage such as this is great for getting my story out there and all helps in me getting such kind offers of support in the way of somewhere to pitch my tent, a bed for the night, a hot meal. I really have been welcomed in to so many homes, and treated like one of the family, I am so very, very grateful to each and every one of you x
I had a great welcome from Anthea Atkinson and Michael Reeves at the River House Bed and Breakfast in Dungloe and also Nicola, Ian and Purdey at Sleepy Hollows Campsite in Crolly where I stayed for a few days with Mark who was visiting, and shared some time around the campfire in their lovely campsite.
The start of the following week I headed to Dunfanaghy in North Co Donegal. As Mark was still visiting, I didn’t have to carry my heavy rucksack, as Mark met me at the end of each day, so that made walking a little easier, and of course great to have Mark’s company.
I planned to walk through Downings, Portsalon, and on to Dunree Head via ferry.
I had the most wonderful welcome from the people of Rathmullen
Thanks to the Rathmullen Sailing and Watersports School for taking me to Buncrana by boat, which not only saved me an extra two days walking but made sure I reached Buncrana in time to do the Buncrana Parkrun on the Saturday morning.
I then headed for Clonmany, which was my last day of having Mark here to support me, before he headed back home. The temperatures were still chilly for May, but it was so nice to have a dry spell – I’ve had my fair share of storms and hurricanes over the past few months!!
Its always lovely when people give me a toot and a wave when they pass my walking, or stop and chat. Its nice to have the company, but also I’m grateful for the photos and all the posts on social media – especially as I’m often restricted in my internet access. Here are a few more people I had the pleasure of meeting along the way ….. Cara Banks and Noel McGlinchey – thanks so much for sharing your photos!
Monday 13 May 2019 was a turning point for me – literally! I was delighted to have reached Malin Head in County Donegal – the most northerly point of Ireland, from then on, I was heading south!
I am now an “End to Ender” having walked from Mizen, County Cork, Ireland’s most Southerly point. This part of the journey took me 79 days including days off and Island hopping! It was a proud and emotional moment for me as in 2017 I walked from John O’Groats (Scotland) to Land’s End (Cornwall) 66 days. So am now a double End to Ender – M2M – JOGLE !
Huge thanks to Cafe Bamba Coffee Van for a celebratory tea and cake, and lovely to meet supporters of Alzheimer’s Research which is what this walk is all about.
Thanks also to Wild Strands Caife at Malin Head where I tried their Crotal Flummery (aka Carraigín pudding) which certainly kept me fuelled!
I had a lovely visit to Playdays Playschool, where I met the children and talked to them about my journey. Its amazing to think that most of these small children will be 8 years old by the time I finish my travels! Thanks Colette Mattie for the photos.
I continued my walk along the south along the east side of the Inishowen peninsula from Culdaff Beach today to Quigley’s Point, and then met up with Siobhan Quinn, who I had met previously. It was a glorious day, lovely and sunny, and so nice to have some company along my walk. Thank you Siobhan x
I then reached Muff, meaning I had completely the entire Wild Atlantic Way – 2,600km in length, plus some extra diversions, Island hopping, climbing mountains, and the odd few Parkrun!
And then on to Derry ….
In Derry, I met with Mayor John Boyle whose term of office was ending that week, Cllr Shauna Cusack, and also the wonderful Alzheimers/Dementia awareness people, headed up by Una Hume, Carol from Discover Northern Ireland who were promoting The Open Golf competition, and for any golf fans – I had a photo taken with Rory McIlroys’ Replica Claret Jug!
After Derry, I set off for Coleraine, Portstewart, Portrush, Giant’s Causeway, Ballinatoy, Ballycastle where I had the kind offer of a meal by Morton’s.
Thanks to Rathlin Island Ferry Company for arranging the ferry across to Rathlin Island, and to Shauna at the Ferry office who kindly arranged my accommodation. Also a meal in McCuaig’s Bar while on Rathlin Island A huge Thank you to everyone for your wonderful support and hospitality.
After leaving Ballycastle Town I headed along the coast to Cushendun, where Liz Weir welcomed me at the lovely Ballyeamon Barn, near Cushendall.
Over the next few days, I planned to walk from Cushendall – Glenarm – Magheramorne – Carrickfergus and on to Belfast in time for their Parkrun in Victoria Park on the Saturday
In Carnlough, I met an amazing woman, Tracy Gilpin, who herself is undertaking a mammoth challenge this year – completing 15 half marathons, 2 marathons and a 100km ultra marathon as to raise money for Mindwise and the National Suicide Research Foundation. You can read more about Tracy’s challenge by clicking here
Lovely to meet up with Frances Wilson in Glenarm and Rosleen as I walked from Carnlough Thanks to the Friendship Club, and Jackie and Stevie who donated x
I was given a lovely welcome from the staff and pupils at St John’s Primary School in Carnlough. They asked lots of questions, and even collected some money towards my fundraising – thank you x They’ve also written a blog post about my visit which you can read by clicking here
I met up with Daren Camley, who cycled along the coast road to meet me at Glenarm, then we walked about 8 miles together. We had the most breathtaking views along the route, then stopped for a cuppa in the Ballygally Castle Hotel before stopping in Drains Bay. Darren shared with me the story of his 400 mile charity cycle around Northern Ireland in May 2018, and also his forthcoming adventure in July 2019 – cycling 700 miles through the 32 counties of Ireland in aid of Alzheimer’s. If any of you would like to follow Darren’s journey, click here.
Darren also took me to visit the Dementia Choir at The Music Yard in Larne where we had the most wonderful welcome, and there’s a lovely article in the Larne Times which you can read by clicking here.
A few more special thank yous:
Martin and Sinead at The Bank House in Carrickfergus, Curran Court Hotel in Larne, and The Dairy in Glenoe, all of whom gave me such a warm welcome, and also some donations to Alzheimer’s Research – thank you x
Also Thanks Tracy Galpin for the photos….
And to Frances Wilson for the clothes pegs!……. You may have noticed I have the Alzheimer’s flag on my rucksack – well, it needed a little help staying on, so Frances and the lovely Jackie came to the rescue!
As I am a volunteer for the National Trust back home on the Gower Peninsula, I was pleased to be able to fit in a visit to the National Trust waterfall at Glenoe. Thanks Valerie Snoddy for the photos.
When I was welcomed in to Tracey Mcnickle’s home, I wasn’t expecting to have my very own tour guide of the area! Not only was I so very well looked after by Tracey, she gave me a whistlestop tour of the area – introducted me to the wonderful hospitality at The Dancing Goat, we enjoyed time at Kilcreggan Farm, spent time with the young people and community at Carrick Connect, chatted with local councillor Billy Ashe, enjoyed refreshments at Dobbins Inn, and posed for photos at the castle. Tracey – thank you for so many wonderful photos x
The following day, as I headed off towards Belfast, stopping at Sozo, Whiteabbey for refreshments and then later on to the Portside Inn for dinner (thank you x), Tracey kindly offered to keep hold of my rucksack for me and deliver it to me at the end of the day – so that I had a day of slightly lighter walking – this makes such a difference.
After a night in Belfast, and taking part in the Victoria Parkrun, my plan for the last week of May 2019 was : Bangor / Ballywater / Kearney / Ardglass (via Portaferry) / Newcastle / Annalong / Killkeel / Jenkinstown (via ferry). I also had a lovely article about me in the BelfastLive newspaper article which you can read by clicking here.
At Bangor, I met up with Darren Camley again, and also met the friendly local police PSNI Road Policing
The last day of May 2019 was a wet one! Despite the weather, I still met some great people on my walk who came out to support me Laura McAllister, Patricia Cunningham and Toni Hannigan who said that she first saw me at the end of April in Ballyshannon and Donegal, not realising what I was walking for (probably as my flag was getting blown by Storm Hannah at the time!) Since then, she’d been trying to catch up with me, and I’m so glad she did – it was lovely to meet her and her dog Barney.
And so…….. its June 2019.
Normally, I’d start another blog, but as I am just 2 weeks away from leaving Ireland, I thought I’d make this a 6 week long entry, and start my next one when I return to Wales.
So, for the first week of June, my route took me from Annalong to Jenkinstown, Castlebellingham, Drogheda, Skerries (via Balbriggan), and on to Portmarnock.
As always, I met some great people on my travels, and received some amazing hospitality, which I shall be forever grateful for. Claudine Níc Giolla Chomhaill in Cooley, and Roisin Duffy on the route from Jenkinstown to Castlebellingham. At Jenkinstown and Barry’s shop Grange – Eunice Rice, Emer Lynch & Donal Rice.
And then ……. the day I finally got to meet Bill Flynn! After all these months, it was such a pleasure to meet with Bill and Onra, his 11 year old grandaughter in Blackrock, Co Louth.
If you follow my Facebook group I am sure you will be familiar with the name Bill Flynn. Bill has been following my progress, posting updates, photos and route info daily, and generally drumming up support from people in as many ways possible. There are no other words to describe Bill other than he is an absolute gem! I first really became aware of him in Ardmore when attempting to pay for a coffee and cake without success. The cafe spoke fondly of Bill Flynn and told me the bill was covered. To that I uttered the words “Who on earth is Bill Flynn?” since then, those words have endearingly stuck all my way around the Coast. He is a mover and shaker, a mentor, social media guru, voice of wisdom and above all my friend. I would not be here without him. Bill knows this already, so no surprise, but my book currently in progress about Ireland is dedicated to him x
And on to Balbriggan for a cuppa with Edel and Paul before continuing on to Skerries.
On 6 June 2019, my JustGiving page reached a third of my £100,000 target. This was so amazing to see, considering I had only been walking for 6 months of my 4 year journey, so thanks to each and every one of you for your kind donations and support x
As I arrived in Dublin, at Connolly Station I had a welcome from Billy Gilpin, Director of Railway Undertaking, Irish Rail. Thanks Tracy Gilpin for the photograph, and also another interview at the RTE Radio studio with Ray D”Arcy which you can listen to here (about 20 mins in)
And then ….. can you believe it – meeting the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Nial Ring where he presented me with a scroll – what an honour!
That evening, I had the most wonderful time with Tracy Gilpin at Oliver St. John Gogartys a bit of a late night considering I had Fairview Parkrun the following morning!
After the Parkrun, walking along the coast road towards Bray, I realised that I would soon be entering my final week in Ireland. It seemed a lifetime ago that I first stepped off the ferry in Rosslare, only a few weeks in to my journey. Mark and I had been looking at the route, and sadly, my last day in Ireland would be Friday 14 June 2019, catching the 6pm ferry from Rosslare. It would have been 6 months to the day that I left Swansea, walking the Wales Coast Path to Fishguard, then over to Ireland, arriving on the 3 February.
My plan for this final week was Bray – Rathnew – Brittas Bay – Castletown – Ballywater – Ballycrane – Rosslare harbour via Wexford
I was pleased to meet up with Graham who is travelling with Lizzy the Jug in his camper van as a tribute to his wife who sadly passed away. Graham’s father Vernon suffered with Alzheimer’s so understood the condition first hand. You can follow Graham and Lizzy the Jug’s journey on their facebook page by clicking here
At Gorey, I was so very well looked after by Brona at Clonganny House. Apparently, if you zoom in on that first photo, that dot is me as I make my way along the beautiful Wexford coast on my way to Rosslare!
While in Courtown, I met this amazing man, Andreas Wengel who is travelling around Ireland on his tractor and caravan. Do look out for him – such a fascinating journey!
As I continue my walk, on my final day in Ireland, at 1pm, my JustGiving page was at £34,785 in donations, and Bill Flynn was working so hard in trying to get me to reach £35,000 by the time my ferry sailed that evening.
Back home in Swansea, Kim was busy contacting the local media to let them know of my return back to Wales, and I gave an interview on 964fm The Wave. It was so windy when I gave the interview, I didn’t think people would be able to hear me, but it must have been ok, as Kim said they played the clip on the hour, every hour for the rest of that day!
And as my final day of walking ended, the lovely Margaret and Michael at the beautiful Clifford House B & B, Rosslare Harbour very kindly offered to host a farewell gathering. Clifford House was the first place I stayed when I arrived in Ireland back in February so it was so lovely to end the Irish leg of my journey there. Thanks so much to everyone who turned up to bid me farewell.
Before I got on the ferry, I was delighted to hear that my JustGiving page had reached £35,121!!! A huge thank you to Bill Flynn for everything that you have done, not just with the fundraising, but with the daily Facebook posts, helping Mark arrange accommodation, and generally making my journey easier. You are a star x
I was very sad to leave on the ferry that evening. I am so thankful to so many people. I really have made some friends for life during these past 4 and a half months in Ireland. Such a wonderful place x
As I headed home to Wales, I planned to have a 48 hour break to visit family and friends who I hadn’t seen since leaving home on 14 January, before starting the next leg of my journey heading north up the Wales Coast Path from Rosslare.
Thank you Ireland xx
DONATE HERE and help me reach my fundraising target for Alzheimer’s Research UK
Until the next blog ….. thank you all so much for your support