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The Word on the Week

Take a Hike

Once upon a time you could tell when the tourist season started by the queue of Wallace Arnold busses that blocked Nassau Street! Nowadays its different tourist’s fly and motor in at a great rate. Thanks to the allure of our advertisers many come bound for the “Wild Atlantic Way”.

Ireland has been slow to get off the ground with walkways and is only trotting behind the European walking trails with Switzerland’s ‘Wanderwegs’ being some of the best established.

However none of them can boast of a walk covering 2,000kms of coastline! Some have no coastline at all. Part of the Wild Atlantic Way – called the Great Western Greenway – runs from Galway to Westport from whence it takes the line of the old railway track to Achill Island. On it weary hikers can hire bicycles and even trailers for those too young to pedal. Fortunately the sleepers have been removed from the line and the absence of gradient makes it easy cycling.

Of course for those who disdain the idea of bikes they can hike off to the Camino De Santiago and step it out on the path of St James in North West Spain. There they meet a sort of metropolis of walkers converging on Santiago from a number of well defined routes across Europe. It is a moot point whether or not St James was ever there but recent films and feature articles have provided the walk with the oxygen of publicity to establish it on the map. The local tourist board must be wondering what happened as their numbers have grown from 25,000 to 250,000 over the last 20 years.

Nearer home, in West Cork, David Ross along with members of his extended family developed some walking trails around Drimoleague.

The longest of these starts there at the ‘Top of the Rock’ and makes its way to Gougane Barra. The walk follows the route taken by St Finbarr in the 6th century. There is a contemplative aspect build into this walk where walkers stop along the route at places frequented by the Saint and reflect on his message of saving grace.

One can only imagine the impact Finbarr would have had as he spoke of a God who made all things and, in a world gone astray, sent his son to redeem the lost. Did they respond to the Saviour’s invitation (St Matthew Chapter 11 verse 28). Did they hang back or did they grasp by faith the call to walk in the Jesus’s footsteps? Will you?