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Castlebar ready for 46th international walking festival

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Castlebar ready for 46th international walking festival

Edwin McGreal

While much of the attention in the town centre of Castlebar this weekend will be on the Heart of Castlebar Festival, in the hills outside Castlebar one of the more resilient festivals in the country will be in its 46th year.
Since its formation in 1967 the Castlebar 4 Day Walks Festival has kept going year after year with walkers from all over the world descending on Castlebar for the festival. In fact it was only in 2001, with the foot and mouth outbreak, that the festival didn’t take place.
Running from this Thursday, July 4, to Sunday, July 7, over 1,000 walkers, both locals and visitors from aboard, will descend on the town.
On each day there will be 10km and 20km road walks together with a five hour ramble for walkers to pick from, with the starting point being the Welcome Inn Hotel. Among those travelling to Castlebar for the festival are a group of American forces based in Germany, together with groups from Denmark, France and the Netherlands. Organisers credit Dutch walkers with being the one group that have consistently kept the festival going, even in years when only 100 walkers were talking part.
The most committed walker of them all though is John O’Sullivan from Bristol, England, who is coming over for his 35th successive 4 Day Walks. Several Dutch walkers are coming for their fifteenth visit.
The festival is regarded as comparing very favourably to other walking festivals in Europe and organisers believe that is what keeps bringing many of the walkers back year after year. Among the organisers again this year are people from Sweden and from Philadelphia in the USA who initially came here as walkers but have grown to love the festival so much that they now come to help out with the organisation of it.
For more on the festival see www.castlebar4daywalks.com.