After a gala opening at the Aherlow House Hotel on a moonlit Friday night, the annual Glen of Aherlow Walking Festival got off to a festive start. The master of ceremonies was Helen Morrissey, with guest speaker Michael Fitzgerald and an address from Failte Chairman, Roy Galvin. As expected in these straitened times, numbers were down on last year but the festival was a great success, attracting 200 walkers from all over Ireland, the UK and as far afield as Germany and Holland; a welcome boost for the local economy.
On Saturday morning, the Galtee Walking Club were out and about at the base camp in Moroneys’ bar, Lisvernane to take the walkers into the hills. The festival fielded three walks each day ranging from the more challenging A walks onto the higher peaks of Temple Hill, Galtymore and Cush to the less strenuous woodland C walks around Ballydavid woods, Slievenamuk and Lake Muskry. A novel addition to the festival was a Siuloid as Gaeilge, courtesy of Joan Caulfield. Conditions were dry to start with on Saturday but rain soon took over on the mountain terrain and the longer distance walkers got a bit of a drenching, but still returned to base camp with smiles on their faces. The B group drew the largest numbers with 96 on Saturdays walk. Sundays rain was more persistent and while some walkers stayed under their duvets, 83 stalwarts managed to get out on the mountains.
Aside from walking, the organisers laid on some great nighttime entertainment, with song and craic at the Coach House pub and great music from Nick McCarthy, all much appreciated, especially by our foreign visitors.
A special thanks is due to the members of the Galtee Walking club who gave their time and effort to make this festival a success. Thanks to those who led the walks: Tom Lyons, Mike Moroney, Pat Ryan, Brendan Shiels, David Stapleton, Una Phelan, Joan Caulfield, Willie Ryan and all the stewards who helped along the way. Thanks too to Noel Brown for a great bus service and to Hill walking Radio who supplied communications and we look forward to seeing the photos taken by the Tipperary Camera Club who walked the walks and took the snaps. Of course, the unsung heroines have to be the members of Aherlow Failte who worked the background and provided welcome refreshments for the walkers on their return to base. Moroneys pub provided a friendly, informal and welcoming base camp and a big thanks to Mike and the family and of course to the good people of Lisvernane. Well done all and especially Helen for a most successful weekend.