The Baile Chlair walking group formed as a result of a casual conversation between Josette Farrell and Anne Mullarkey Moran at Horkans garden centre. Anne, an avid walker enquired if there was a walking club in Claregalway and Josette said no and in her usual upbeat optimistic manner said “why don’t we set up one.”And thus the seed of a local walking group was planted. Josette contacted Edel Noone and Peggy McGuire who were equally enthusiastic and committed and we set about organising our first walk. We spread the word and a total of eight of us walked our first walk on Wed 10th October 2012. Our inaugural walk was from Claregalway Church to Terry Brennans and back.
Soon after this we decided to walk twice a week, doing a short walk on Wednesdays and be a little more adventurous on Sundays. Our 1st Sunday walk was the Lydican / Cregboy loop and afterwards we relaxed\collapsed in the arches hotel with tea and scones.
Little by little our group expanded and as we celebrate our 5th birthday we have 30 plus members. Most of our members have completed a walking leader training course which has educated us as to group walking, safety, insurance etc.
During these five years we have walked many kilometres over the highways and byways of Galway, walking locally and in Barna, Spiddal, Moycullen, Oughterard, Clifden, Omey Island and in beautiful Connemara taking in The Inagh Valley, Leenane, Maam Valley and last but by no means least walking The Joyce country challenge in Joyce country on the wettest windiest day in July of this year. We have also ventured into Mayo several times, where we have walked the Dirks in Tourmakeady, Sean Bothar in Clonbur, famine walk in Louisburg, the Tóchar Phádraig as well as a walk in Clare Island ,Achill Island and Inis Turk. All these places are exceptionally beautiful and memorable. Sligo, Clare, Kerry, Dublin, Waterford and Laois have also been explored and yet plenty more to do. We have walked the Kerry Camino a 60 km walk from Tralee to Dingle following the steps of St Brendan and the 35km Sligo Camino. Some of our members have walked part or all of the Camino de Santiago.
Our first away walk was the Dublin city marathon in June 2013, we did this walk in aid of the Claregalway and District day care centre and were very happy to have raised €2,200.00 for such a worthy local cause. We have done a total of 29 charity walks over the 5 years, every year we have participated in the “ Darkness into Light “walk on the Salthill promenade which raises funds for Pieta house a charity which provides counselling for persons with suicidal thoughts. We support the Menlo 5m. each February which fundraises for Ability West Ireland. We have also supported walks for Cancer Care, Breast cancer, Croi, Famine in Africa, Galway Hospice , Claregalway Harriers.
In December 2016 the Galway Sports Partnership asked us would we organise some 5 km walks in conjunction with Get Ireland active and the television show “Operation Transformation” which encourages changes to lifestyle. We had our first Operation Transformation walk on January 7th starting from Treat Cafe, Claregalway and we had an amazing 156 people walking. We continued these walks with tremendous support on 14th, 21st and 28th January. Unfortunately we were not able to continue these walks due to our own clubs commitments but we are delighted to see that they are still continuing and a group walk most Saturdays from Treat Cafe.
Not all our activities are walking and we enjoy many social evenings. We love to dine out, go to theatre, concerts, choir recitals and the races. We had a very interesting visit to Dail Eireann in December 2015 and our local T.D. Noel Grealish ensured we were well looked after. Every year we enjoy a walk away with lunch or dinner, we always have a weekend away and Christmas party .Our next outing is “The Fawlty Towers” dining experience which promises to be fun .?? .Our foreign correspondent Helena is researching walks in some far flung sunny place for us and we await results with baited breath wondering what delights await us.
We had a very busy and enjoyable five years walking in sunshine and rain. Most importantly we have met like minded people, broadened our horizons, laughed till we cried and forged friendships that will last a lifetime. All our Sunday walks finish with a cuppa and a chat.
We meet at the Arches hotel at 10.00am Sundays if you would like to come along for a walk and chat or join us at Claregalway church any Wednesday evening at 7.30.