The Burrishoole Walking Festival Committee are looking forward to a busy weekend ahead, from left: Bernie Rumley, John Michael McNulty (President), Kathleen McManamon (committee), Helen Deane (General Manager, Hotel Newport), Jackie Rumley (chairman) and Sinéad Cusack (committee).?Pic: Frank Dolan
Walking the walk in Burrishoole
THE Burrishoole Walking Festival is now in its 24th year and this weekend walkers from all parts of the world will descend on the spectacular west Mayo treks for a weekend to remember.
One man is synonomous with the event. Chairman Jackie Rumley has been there since the very start and he admits it was the beauty of the natural landscape of the area that gave him the confidence to begin the initiative and give visitors the opportunity to revel in the magnificent environs.
“I started walking tours with an English company years ago. I would meet the walkers at Shannon and bring them to Connemara, and the Burren. I saw what was happening in other places and I thought with the support of the local community, we could have something special here in Burrishoole.”
The festival takes place from Saturday to Monday, June 4 to 6, with hundreds of walkers trekking through some of Ireland’s most spectacular scenery in an area comprising Newport, Derrada, Tiernaur and Mulranny.
When the festival first started 24 years ago, the aim of the organisers was to make it a fun weekend for walkers of all levels, and that ethos continues today.
Sunday will have two similar levels of walks, but to two different locations. Registration opens at the Derrada centre at 10.45am and the walks start at 11.30am.
On Sunday evening, walkers will enjoy a barbecue at Derrada Community Centre at 5pm. Entertainment will follow with the presentation of certificates at 9 pm by Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Deputy Michael Ring.
Mass at the Ochillie Mass Rock, some 1,000ft above sea level, will be concelebrated on Bank Holiday Monday at 2pm.
“The Ochillie Mass is a celebration that also attracts a lot of local people. The Mass was revived thanks to the festival. Previously Mass hadn’t been celebrated at the rock since penal times, and this is the only Mass held there each year,” said Jackie, who adds that it is the mix of locals and visiting walkers that give the festival that extra appeal
“Since its inception 24 years ago the committee have been delighted to welcome walkers from Japan, Australia, the US and most European countries to west Mayo. Life-long friendships have been formed over the years as a result of the great atmosphere, welcome and hospitality that has been accorded to walkers.”
Jackie is also keen to thanks all the local farmers, who act as guides, and a very active ladies committee, who are an integral part of the event.
“Many people have commented on the unique commitment of all involved who work to ensure the continued success of the festival. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we invite all to come along and discover it,” he added.
There are high and low level walks, and participants can walk a short distance or choose a high level minimum of six hours walk. Families are welcome to join in, with the nearby Greenway providing an ideal route for walkers bringing along children and buggies.And it was at a festival some years ago that the idea of developing the former railway line as a walkway was mooted.
Burrishoole Walking Festival Committee is also about to enter the education arena. The committee hope to start a course in training local guides this September, particularly for farmers and local landowners who’d like to get involved. The course will be run in conjunction with Mayo VEC and it is believed it will be a first for the country to be organised by a walking festival committee.
Registration for the Burrishoole Walking Festival gets under way on Saturday morning at Derrada Community Centre, two miles from Newport, at 10am, with the walks kicking off at 11am. To facilitate the smooth running of the event, the organisers are appealing to participants to register their interest with them prior to next weekend.
They are asking participants to book before 9pm, this Thursday, June 2, by contacting 098 36144 or 087 2249679. If you’d like more information about the festival or accommodation, contact Jackie Rumley at 098 36144 or Sinéad Cusack at 087 2249679, email firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.burrishoolewalkfest.com.