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Hiking in Ireland (part 2 of a 3 part series)

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Read “Ireland:  A Buddy Trip”, part 1 of this series.

Click to read Part 1 in this series

Hiking Ireland  (second in a three-part series)

‘A good walk spoiled’ is how Mark Twain described the game of golf. But clearly Huck Finn’s author never had the pleasure of strolling the links of Ireland. Having said that, after eight days chunking shots and misreading putts at Ballybunion, Lahinch, and a number of other venerable golf courses with seven buddies, I was more than ready to hang up the clubs and go walkabout.

Five of the lads made their way to Dublin Airport for the long flight back to Canada, but I and two lucky buddies remained behind at the Brooks Hotel, awaiting the arrival of our better halves – and the second portion of our Emerald Isle adventure. We were bound for a week of relaxed hiking in the west of Ireland. I was looking forward to a calmer, tamer chapter than the golf marathon. A road trip with the boys can leave one’s body – and brain – badly bruised.

We were slumped in easy chairs in the lobby of the Brooks perusing the Irish Times when a cab pulled up and the gals came swinging through the doors. We kissed hello while Connor, the affable doorman, unloaded bags. After a quick freshen up we hit Dublin’s late afternoon streets, introducing the ladies to the Stag’s Head, our favourite Temple Bar pub, where we slurped a Guinness, stared up at the stuffed stags staring down upon us and chowed down on some fine Irish stew.In the morning, before boarding the train for Killarney – the starting point of our hike – we enjoyed a city walking tour, visiting the statues of sweet Molly Malone and Oscar Wilde who, amongst other great witticisms, coined the phrase about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. As an unrepentant pilferer of other people’s ideas, I tip my hat to Oscar.

Oscar Wilde in clever repose

Making small talk in the taxi en route to the train station, I looked up at the sky and asked the driver, “Are you expecting rain?” He looked at me as if I were daft and said, “This is Ireland lad, we are always expecting rain.”

Sun and cloud dance together on MacGillycuddy’s Reeks

The train-view from Dublin to Killarney was uneventful – lots of tunnels and high hedges. On arrival, a dark-haired woman with a friendly face and a broad smile greeted us on the platform. Elaine Farrell introduced herself as we threw our packs in the back of an eight-seater van. Elaine, from Ireland Walk, Hike, Bike, would be our driver, private guide and constant companion for the week.

Elaine Farrell and canine friend enjoying Killarney Lake

The forecast for hiking was not as favourable as it had been for our golf week but, as the locals joyfully proclaim: “You don’t come to Ireland for the weather.”

The first day began with a soggy boat trip to the headwaters of the Three Lakes, in Killarney National Park. As we motored the narrow waters, the third-generation boatman entertained us with local history – some of which may have been true – and an infectious laugh. We docked at Lord Brandon’s Cottage from whence we tromped the ancient Butter Road from Mol’s Gap back to Killarney town.

A lovely Irish beach day!

After two nights in Killarney, we packed for Cahersiveen and a beach hike on the north shore of the Ring of Kerry. From there we moved on to Dingle and a glorious trek skirting Annascaul Lake.

We climbed up and through a mountain pass connecting the south of Dingle peninsula to the north. As we reached the summit, we encountered a solitary shepherd clad in leather breeches, a soiled woolen sweater and gumboots. He also sported a grizzled visage.

The shy shepherd.

I asked for his picture but he shook his head resolutely, “I’m not that attractive. Better to get a shot of the dog.” But the border collie was having none of it and hurried off in search of a wayward lamb.

Elaine turned and, as always, sloshed ahead, warning us around wet spots and cautioning against the few poisonous plants. “Beware the kidney vetch,” she said, “it can lead to Dingle chin.” She laughed, then strode into a field of bog cotton.

Every hike was different and unique. One afternoon we marched along a lonely beach, skirting sea-scoured boulders, tidal pools and the rising sea. Another day it was a narrow path, with ancient stone walls flanking our journey. There were high traverses and stunning outlooks to the ocean.

Mossy stone walls mark the ancient path.

foxtail season

And every night was unique. A fine pub with great dinner. Fish and chips with mushy peas, spring lamb, stew. And good company.

Mushy peas anyone?

Elaine always ate with us. In my experience it is unusual for a guide to eat supper with the guests; usually they’re exhausted after a long day attending to the whims of indulged tourists, so the tour boss lets them have a peaceful, solitary evening. But Elaine’s energy never abated. She was there ‘til the bitter end each night. And in the morning there she was, knapsack packed and water bottle full, ready to pilot us on a new adventure. These names won’t mean much to you, but if you’re thinking of traversing Ireland’s paths you should consider the Kerry Way, Derrynane, the Dingle Peninsula, Slea Head and the pilgrimage up Mount Brandon.

On our Mt. Brandon day, the final chapter in our weeklong experience, the summit was socked in – so Elaine spontaneously changed the itinerary. Scanning the horizon, she spotted the remains of a 15th century lookout on Brandon Head overlooking the sea and said, “Shall we give that a go?”

Elaine photo bombs the kissing gate at Brandon Head.

We jumped in the van, veering past ripening hay fields and a soggy peat bog toward what appeared to be a trailhead. Elaine asked the local landowner for permission to enter and directions to the summit – which were happily proffered – and off we trod up the steep pitch. The hike was a highlight – and the reward spectacular. As we climbed toward the ruins the path narrowed to a ridge; to the south all of verdant Dingle laid out below us, to the north certain death loomed over a sheer cliff.

The rugged coast of Brandon Head.

We ate lunch in the lee of the old fort, protected from the buffeting wind by a crumbling wall. “Brilliant,” Elaine said. We all looked around and silently agreed.

If you go: www.irelandwalkhikebike.com

Gerry Feehan is an award-winning travel writer and photographer. He and his wife Florence now live in Kimberley, BC! Thanks to Ing and McKee insurance and Kennedy Wealth Management for sponsoring this great travel series.

We will travel again but in the meantime, enjoy Gerry’s ‘Buddy Trip to Ireland’

 

 

 

 

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Halloween will be just a bit different this year. Trick or Treat tips from Red Deer RCMP

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Red Deer RCMP witch you a safe and happy Halloween

Though Halloween might look a little different this year, the safety of our little ghosts and goblins is just as important as ever. Red Deer RCMP would like to remind children and adults about a few Halloween safety tips so all may enjoy a fun Halloween.

Trick or Treating

  • Ensure costumes have a perfectly frightful fit. Make sure the length does not pose a tripping hazard. Wear bright costumes, reflective tape, glow sticks or carry a flashlight.
  • Walk on the sidewalk when possible, visiting houses on one side of the street at a time.
  • Choose costumes that allow a non medical mask to be worn underneath. Make sure you can see and breath comfortably.
  • Ideally, children should be accompanied by a parent, adult family member, an older sibling or trusted family friend.
  • Children should not enter a house nor a vehicle of someone they do not know.
  • Avoid alleys, dark parking areas, or vacant lots.
  • Maintain social distancing of 2 meters, try and stay in your own neighbourhood and avoid touching doorbells or knocking on doors by yelling “trick or treat!”
  • Don’t go trick or treating if feeling ill.

Motorists play a large part in our Trick or Treater’s Safety

  • Drive slowly through residential areas, watching for children that may be on the road or using cross walks.
  • Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
  • Watch for children darting out from houses and cars.
  • When approaching intersections, be extra diligent in coming to full and complete stops; proceeding slowly thereafter.

Tips for Treat Givers

  • Don’t hand out candy if you are feeling ill or self-isolating.
  • Wear a non medical mask that fully covers your nose and mouth
  • Use tongs to hand out pre-packaged candy and find creative ways to maintain distance from trick or treaters.
  • Keep a clear path from the road/sidewalk to your front door. Remove any items that may pose a tripping hazard.
  • Leave the porch lights on.
  • Pets should be kept inside away from trick or treaters.
  • Report any suspicious activities to the RCMP.

More information on Halloween during COVID-19 can be found at www.Alberta.ca/Halloween. The Red Deer RCMP wishes everyone a safe and skele-fun Halloween.

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Cash Lottery for the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is back, and it’s bigger

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Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre 50/50 Cash Lottery

 The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is excited to announce that the CACAC 50/50 Cash

Lottery is BACK and bigger than ever!

One lucky winner will walk away with up to $200,000 all while supporting the efforts of the Centre. Tickets start at just $10 – or increase your chances to win with 10 for $25, 25 for $50, and 50 for $75. Minimum guaranteed prize of $80,000!

This year, the lottery is introducing 3 Early Bird Prizes! These prizes include passes to Sunshine Ski + Resort, Hotel Stays, Gift Cards, and much more! Each Early Prize is valued over $850! Deadline for the Early Bird Prizes is December 19th, 2020 – visit the

“We are thrilled to bring back the 5050 for a second year! The success of last years’ lottery allowed us to help more children and families from across Central Alberta; we are hopeful to sellout this year knowing the positive impact that it will have on our Centre. Thanks to our partners and advocates, we have been able to support over 1150 children and youth from 80 communities – giving children a safe place to share their story, and to receive wrap-around support. I am so proud of how many communities have supported our organization over the past 3 years; we truly are Central Alberta’s Child Advocacy Centre. Please consider buying a ticket today to support more children and more families that need our help.” Mark Jones, CACAC CEO

Tickets are available online at www.cacac5050.ca and will be emailed to the purchaser. You can also call the Centre directly to purchase tickets at 587-272-2233. Lottery license number: 563873

The CACAC 50/50 Cash Lottery deadline is January 31st, 2021 at 11:00pm and the draw will take place on February 10, 2021 at 11:00am.

Together, we can end child abuse. Purchase your ticket today to support the CACAC and the children of our community.

The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is also looking for opportunities to sell their 50/50 Cash Lottery Tickets on location. If you have an event or location you would like to host the CACAC at, please contact Alaine at [email protected] or call 587-272-2233.

For more information on CACAC, please visit: centralalbertacac.ca | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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