The following piece, in bold, is from a few of my emails my dad replied to, kind of an informal interview (me asking his advice about a long walk and to share his experience a bit) about his charity walk in 1969. Makes for a good read!
I just thought I’d give a nod to his achievement through social media, as it might be portrayed now.
As it’s his birthday today I thought it would be apt. Happy birthday dad!
As for the route – that’s a difficult one. Road traffic has increased so much since we did the Dublin- Cork walk in 1969!
So that will have to be carefully considered. Recommended walking routes are usually through remote areas.
That’s fine if you have a tent and food. Not so fine if you intend staying with contacts along the way.
You will probably have a target of between 20 and 30 miles a day – depending on mental and physical fitness, weather – and SHOES!
A day’s rest somewhere is a good idea.
We didn’t keep a journal on the Dublin/Cork walk and we had no pre-arranged places to stay.
We started from outside Dublin – on the Naas road – met a priest in Kildare and he let us use a tennis club hall for the night.
Went on to Portlaoise – knocked on the door of Portlaoise Jail looking for a cell for the night! Get lost!
Went to the local hospital where I met a friend from secondary school, a doctor – gave us a room for the night – slept on the floor.
Next stop Cashel – one of the group had relations there – a big meal and warm bed.
On to Fermoy – met a garage owner who had sold 5 cars to Warrenstown College when he first started his business
and he put us up at a local hotel and told us ‘Order whatever you want’. Brilliant!
Then on to Watergrasshill, near Cork. We used to sing in pubs to collect money at night, so this guy in the pub
offered us a bed for the night – his wife wasn’t too pleased!
We collected money in every town and village – sang in pubs at night – and collected around £350 for the walk.
It wasn’t great. Some people threw money at us from passing cars. One delivery guy tossed a delicious cake
out his window as he passed.
We were collecting for Gorta – Freedom from Hunger and in one butcher’s shop
in Newbridge the guy behind to counter threw us a bone! So you’ll meet all sorts of people on a journey like that.
The idea of the bed? Just a gimmick. There were a lot of charity walks going on in those days
and you really needed some kind of eye-catching stunt to, er, catch the eye!
We got the bed made, complete with wheels, in one of the workshops
in Warrenstown Ag College, where we were students.
The bed did give us some trouble – the wheel bearings tended to go.
This happened in Cashel on a Sunday – a beautiful, warm sunny day in late March.
We split up and went searching for wheels – a bit of an ask on a quiet Sunday in Tipperary.
Anyway, two of our group met a traveller when they were searching in the town dump.
He brought them to a local estate where many residents were sitting in their front gardens,
enjoying the sun. As he passed each house he shouted to the occupiers ‘ Any old whales, Mam,
any old whales?’. The two lads were mortified!
Incredibly, one woman offered the wheels off her baby’s pram – with baby still in pram!
Some people are so generous. The wheels fitted the bed and we were back on the road.