2nd Annual East Clare Walking Festival proves a great success

The 2nd Annual East Clare Walking Festival took place on the weekend 5th -7th Oct 2012 in the beautiful Harbour Village of Mountshannon, with the Mountshannon Hotel as our base for the weekend’s activities. The festival was deemed a great success with numbers well up on last year’s figures.

We couldn’t have wished for better weather with glorious Autumn sunshine all through the weekend with not a drop of rain in sight.

The festival started off on Saturday morning bright and early,and our A, B and C grade walkers took to the hills and valleys of East Clare with great enthusiasm.

This was repeated on Sunday, which was National Trails Day, and many people walked on both mornings.

All walkers were full of praise for the various walks and many newcomers to East Clare were amazed at the beauty of the place and vowed to return another day. All were treated to refreshments in the Mountshannon Hotel afterwards and sincere thanks to Pauline Madden & staff for her excellent attention to detail.

We introduced 2 new walks this year and both proved to be extremely well received. The Special Boat Trip & Guided Walk on Holy Island was held on both days and was very popular with locals & visitors alike. Noted Ballinskelligs born singer,but now living in West Clare, Tim Dennehy, joined us for the Sunday walk and his haunting songs on the tour around the island were one of many highlights.

Tim said afterwards that–“This year’s East Clare Walking Festival was again a huge success. The beautiful rolling landscape, the lapping waters of Lough Derg and the bright autumn sunshine would do the heart, mind and soul the world of good. My own highlight was the boat trip and guided walk on Holy Island/ Inis Cealtra. This special place is a must see for anyone who has not been and an essential repeat pilgrimage for those who have. It is serene and sublime but really words cannot capture its essence for ths holy place breathes and speaks for itself. Áit speisialta bheannaithe!”

The walkers were guided on the island by our well known local historian, Ger Madden, and his contribution was acknowledged by walkers & organisers alike.

On Sunday afternoon, we introduced our Family Walk on the Whitegate/Williamstown Harbour Loop, starting & finishing at the Half Barrell Pub & Restaurant and again this proved to be an astounding success, with local historian, Tommy Holland, in great form as he guided everyone around the loop. Many thanks to Batt Riordan, family & staff at the Half Barrell for looking after us so well with refreshments afterwards.

We were also joined on Sunday by Eimer McCarthy, Rural Recreation Officer, along with her family and she had this to say about her experience of the day-“We had a really great day, explored some of the fantastic tracks and trails of East Clare, in the capable hands of an experienced and knowledgeable guide, with most amazing views, met some lovely people, thoroughly enjoyed the delicious stew, and have no aches or pains the following day!

It is absolutely brilliant to see communities and businesses in East Clare linking with the local walking club to showcase the really wonderful walking trails, as well as hospitality and culture that this unique part of Clare has to offer. One highlight of the Turkenagh B Walk I took part in on Sunday, was when some members of the East Clare Walking Club pointed out delicious wild blueberries, called bilberries or fraochán as gaelige, as we walked a section of the East Clare Way towards the end of our walk.”

We also had amongst us Paul Dunne, noted landscape photographer and experienced walker,from the Slieve Blooms, and he said– “Thanks again for the lovely weekend walking in East Clare. This was my first time and I was very impressed with the walk and the beautiful Slieve Aughty Mountains.”

So, East Clare Walking Festival No. 2 has come to an end and has given us another treasure chest of great memories, new friendships & the odd blister !
Many thanks to all who took part, organised or assisted in any way.

Roll on 2013.!!!