Limerick Rose Hazel Ni Chathasaigh; Fiona Walsh and Michael Noonan, Ballyhoura, launch the walking festival | Picture: Dave Gaynor
FROM meeting the love of your life to finding mindfulness, to discovering the scenic beauty on our doorstep - the Ballyhoura International Walking Festival caters for every taste.
There is a total of 25 walks over the May Bank Holiday weekend from Friday, May 4 to Monday, May 7. The Limerick Rose Hazel Ni Chathasaigh – who as a physiotherapist knows the importance of exercise – officially launched the festival in Kilfinane.
Fiona Walsh, business development manager Ballyhoura Beo, said they are celebrating their 23rd event and are looking forward to welcoming walkers from all over Ireland and abroad.
The singles walk along the Keale River from Darragh to Ballyorgan is back again after it proved such a success last year. The brilliant tag-line is: “Prepare to meet your soulmate, while noticing the birds and bees on the singles walk.
“This is an over 18s walk, a drink or two may be consumed at the bars located at the start and end. This walk will involve a bus transfer from Kilfinane,” said Fiona, who reveals that one couple was formed last year and they are still going strong.
“They found love at the Ballyhoura International Walking Festival. It is a lovely way to meet new people. We had men and women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. We had about 25 last year so we’re hoping for even more this year. The scenery is beautiful and you could find the love of your life too!” said Fiona.
The festival provides an opportunity to explore some of Ballyhoura Country’s stunning countryside in the company of guides from the Ballyhoura Bears walking and Limerick climbing clubs.
It features a packed programme of walks for all abilities, from the enthusiastic well-equipped walker who relish the challenge of the A and B walks on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, to the gentle ramblers who are out to enjoy pleasant guided walks in the company of local experts in the fields of heritage, archaeology, history, flora and fauna. This year, the Galtee Mountain climb is their fundraising event.
“All proceeds are in aid of Liam’s Lifts - a community -based transport service, whose aim is to solve transport difficulties that members of our community often face when they need to attend oncology appointments and treatments in Cork City. This service is provided on a volunteer basis, by members of our community. All proceeds from the walk go to the charity,” said Fiona.
As well as all the different types of trails there is also the opportunity to rest weary muscles a talk by guest speakers at the Deebert House Hotel, Kilmallock on Friday evening, May 4.
On Saturday night there is a bluegrass music gig in the Church of Ireland, Kilfinane. Sunday night is the Hiker’s Hooley Ball featuring traditional music and dancing in the former church.
For those looking for complete peace and tranquility a mindfulness walk will be led by Sinead Moynihan, an occupational therapist and yoga teacher. There is even a night time walk.
For full information on the dates, times and difficulty of all the walks and how to book, log onto visitballyhoura.com