I feel like a new phase of my life is beginning tomorrow. For a long time, I have wanted to travel all around Ireland.
Of course, I have done this before. I reckon that I have been in every town and village in Ireland at least five times in my adult life.
Back in the 1970s, weekends in Dublin were an escape from West Belfast…and not just Dublin at weekends but longer trips to Galway, Tralee, Wexford.
Later in the 1980s, it was a matter of packing our children into a small car and just going …somewhere…anywhere. Like noon on a Saturday when we went via Monaghan, had lunch in Ballymahon (County Longford), a cup of tea in Clonmel (County Tipperary) and driving up a County Waterford.mountain to see a statue of the Virgin Mary (one of the moving ones…and…it didnt) at 8pm.
On the return journey, we had not driven the three miles into Cappoquin and the babies had fallen asleep. And stayed asleep until 5am Sunday when we got home. They missed out on fish and chips in PortLaoise and another snack at a garage in Balbriggan.
The strange thing is I never learned to drive a car. Our sole driver up and down Corkscrew Hill in County Clare and the Ring of Kerry was Mrs Fitzjames Horse. And the boys got to see castles from Dunluce (County Antrim) to Bunratty (County Clare). And stood on battlefields at Aughrim (County Galway) and Vinegar Hill (County Wexford). Thats how we were then.
And I want to do it again. It is a “bucket list” thing. The Farewell Tour. And I intend to finish it when I am 70 years old.
Ideally I would like to do this on foot. Walking. Thirty years ago, I ran marathons and half marathons. Distance walking holds no fear. My feet will be fine. I wont have respiratory problems….but my knees might be a problem.
Of course I do have my famous Translink (train and bus) pass. Free travel in Norn Iron. And from May 2017, this will be extended to cover the whole island.
Can I manage it?
Well I have a cunning plan.
Say….walking from Belfast to Lisburn. Should be possible to cover that eight miles in a day, especially with a tea break in Dunmurry. Then the train home to stay overnight…and then a day or so later resume the journey in Lisburn.
Day 2….Lisburn-Moira….Train home.
Day 3…Moira -Lurgan. …Day 4 Lurgan-Portadown….Day 5 Portadown-Armagh….Day 6 Armagh-Dungannon.
Yes with lunch breaks and spending the night in my own house, it is certainly possible. And there is always Plan B….get the bus to travel. After all the walk from Coalisland to Cookstown via Stewartstown is not that great.
I have been wanting to do this for a long time and six years seems enough time to do it.
There IS Life after “Keeping An Eye On The Czar of Russia”.