Ballyhoura Region gears up for ‘Headless Horseman Adventure Race’

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

THE MEDIEVAL town of Kilmallock will echo to the sounds of pounding feet and pop music over the Easter weekend when it hosts a local festival to coincide with the Headless Horseman Adventure Race.

THE MEDIEVAL town of Kilmallock will echo to the sounds of pounding feet and pop music over the Easter weekend when it hosts a local festival to coincide with the Headless Horseman Adventure Race.

The race which takes place on Easter Sunday, April 8 will consist of a 45 mileroute broken into three stages - bike to hike, bike to kayak and bike to run.

The event is the brainchild of Fiona Hayes from Bulgaden who, with the help of her family and the local community, has a wealth of experience both in participating and organising this kind of outdoor activity involving running, cycling, and kayaking.

“We are determined to highlight both the scenic aspect of the Ballyhoura region, the hospitality and the craic which awaits the competitors and other visitors to Kilmallock,” she said.

The race, Fiona explained, got its name from the folk tale concerning Gearoid Iarla, 3rd Earl of Desmond who was Chief Justice for Ireland in 1367. The story goes that as a punishment for his involvement in magic he did not die but lives beneath the waters of Lough Gur. Every seven years he rides around the lake margin on his white horse, shod with silver shoes. When the shoes are finally worn, he will regain his mortal form and restore the glory of the Desmonds.

The race meanwhile, starts in Kilmallock with a cycle and travels to Ardpatrick for a six mile run through the scenic Ballyhoura country for the first stage. The second stage involves an 18 mile cycle to Lough Gur. Here competitors will kayak across the enchanted lake and back, to begin the final stage. In this last stage competitors will again take to their bikes for the last time to cycle back to Kilmallock to tackle the final element of the race, which is a run that takes in a route around the area with the finishing line in the historic walled town itself. The HOPE Foundation which works primarily with the street and slum children of Calcutta are the charity partners for the event.

The event has already caught the imagination of people locally, nationally and abroad with many queuing up to register to take part on January 31.

Publicity director Charlotte Grimley explained that they have enlisted the services of local fitness coach Adrian O’Brien who will provide ongoing support to participants.

“Adrian is going to be blogging every week. He will give them advise nutrition-wise on where they should be. There will be a full supporting programme laid on in the town over the duration of the event with an entire festival planned in conjunction with the race and we aim to have everyone home in time to watch the Munster match and enjoy the after race festivities,” she said.

The festival kicks off on Easter Saturday with an underage cycle starting at around 3pm followed by a kiddies disco at 6pm.

Attention will turn to the abbey at 9pm where there will be concert by candlelight featuring various local choirs including the community games girls choir, the chamber choir from Colaiste Iosaef and the church choir.

On Sunday afternoon there will be on-street entertainment featuring magicians, jugglers, stilt-walkers, fire eaters and various food stalls.

Popular folk/rock group Hermitage Green from Limerick and Cavan pop group The Strypes will play on a superdome stage at 7pm which will be positioned on the main street.

On Monday, meanwhile, the Ballyhoura food fair will take place as well as the mart.

“It will be a great weekend in Kilmallock. The local businesses are all for it,” said Carmel Ryan a committee member with Kilmallock Festival Organising Committee.

For more details on the Headless Horseman adventure race log onto www.hhar.ie