Saturday 25 October 2014

Arthur's Day is dead. Long live Arthur's Way, as Gaybo launches new walking trail

Published 01/08/2014 | 11:49

Yvonne Keating, Gay Byrne and soprano Celine Byrne.
Gay Byrne, Patrick Guinness and Philip Rock, General Manager of the Lyons Estate.
An 1890 Charabanc once used by Countess Markievicz.

A new Kildare heritage trail linking Guinness-associated sites has been launched by Yvonne Keating and Gay Byrne.

Arthur's Way, stretching over 16km of northeast Kildare, includes stops like Celbridge (where Arthur Guinness spent his childhood), Leixlip (the site of his first brewery) and Oughterard graveyard (his final resting place).

The trail rises from the confluence of the Liffey and Rye rivers at Leixlip, taking in Castletown House and Celbridge before departing the Liffey Valley to join the Grand Canal at Hazelhatch, continuing on towpaths past the Lyons Estate and towards Oughterard.

Spectacular views over Kildare, Dublin and Leinster unfold along the way.

Arthur's Way was developed by County Kildare Fáilte with a voluntary steering group who spent three years delving into the Guinness family archives to research the route.

Arthur's Way map.jpg
Diageo, which owns the iconic drinks brand, is not involved in the initiative.

The similar name inevitably evokes Arthur's Day, however.

Conceived of in 2009 as a celebration Guinness's 250th anniversary, that event had been dogged by controversy and binge-drinking, with critics including Christy Moore, who satirised a "patron saint of porter canonized by the advertisin' men" in song.

Arthur's Day was axed after a five-year run.

Arthur's Way, by contrast, seems like a far more restful proposition.

Guests at last night's launch at the Village of Lyons included Gaybo, whose father Edward worked at the St. James' Gate brewery, Yvonne Keating - a Kildare native - and Patrick Guinness, a direct descendant of Arthur.

Byrne and Keating are Kildare tourism ambassadors.

Bikes.jpg
The trail will be fully launched by the end of August, when  information panels are in place and an official website (www.arthursway.ie), brochures and an audio guide are live.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport recently granted funding of €311,000 for the development of Arthur’s Way as a cycling route in addition to the walking route under development.

Arthur's Way: The Details

Length: 16km approx

Time: 3–3.5 hours walking; 1–1.5 hours cycling

Grade: Easy. Generally flat with good surfaces. Inclines at Old Hill, Leixlip and Ardclough. Mix of footpaths, tracks, and canal towpath. Suitable for family groups.

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