The Walk Begins

The first day began as so many first days do: a struggle through organizational and logistical bedlam to figure out just where we were going and how to get there. Some of our walkers began down the road out of Dublin while two others departed for Donegal to pick up our support van and yet another contingent went to pick up a final volunteer at the airport. Progress was slow, and the walk stopped short outside of the University College Dublin when the crew reconvened to record our progress, and to meet both the new arrival and our new ride. Through the kindness of former Crossroads walker Tim Jackson and his cadre of roommates, we enjoyed an evening of good conversation and, of course, a roof over our heads.

Our second day proved much more straightforward, and yet much more of a challenge. Gone were the uncertainties – we had a plan now – but in their place were narrow winding roads into the Irish countryside. A few points along the way were perhaps a bit more dangerous than we would like on our first day of serious travel, but in short order, we made our way out of the city and into the incredibly scenic hills beyond. Out trek ended just south of Rathnew, County Wicklow, and we were treated to the incredible graciousness and generosity of the Porter family, who opened their home to us on this night as well as the wollowing two evenings.

On the third day, we walked some more – no great surprise there. What was a surprise was the weather; one typically imagines Ireland with only a passing acquaintance with the sun, for want of cloudless skies and rainless days. Not so on day three – the sun shone throughout the day, with only the occasional veil of clouds concealing its auspicious warmth. For most this meant walking without fear of the harsher elements, for a few this meant an unwelcome heat that made the walk that much more uncomfortable, and for Tony it meant picking up a strawberry off the ground and eating it. Rogue fruit notwithstanding, at the end of the day we had a rare treat: a home mass at the Porters’ farm. Many were in attendance, Crossroaders and Porters and others alike, and we all enjoyed a proper (and enormous) Irish supper afterwards.

The fourth day found us lagging behind our expected daily mileage; forty miles or more were necessary to close the distance between our position and outr daily destination. Aster another home mass, we dauntlessly struck out harder than ever before, walking double-time and only making brief stops between shifts. We made our way through countless towns, each with their own distinctive atmosphere (and quite a few castles) – New Ross and Ferns especially come to mind – and we came to a stop just oputside of Waterford. We returned to the Porters’, where another magnificent feast waited for us.

There is more to come, but for now, this blog writer is exhausted.