PUPILS from Annascaul's Scoil Bhreac Chluain got in some walking practice last Thursday ahead of the Tom Crean International Festival which is due to get underway on Friday June 21.
The children set out from the South Pole Inn en-route to Ballinacourty, passing through some of the significant areas in Annascaul associated with the great Antarctic explorer. Hundreds of people are expected to follow suit later this month as the village hosts an international festival dedicated to the one of Annascaul's - and indeed Ireland's - greatest sons.
On Saturday June 22, a 17-mile endurance walk over the mountains of West Kerry and the 'Tom Crean Trail' is being touted as one of the highlights of the festival as it will enable people to visit some of the key locations associated with Crean's life.
"This 17-mile endurance walk marks the 100th anniversary of Tom Crean's epic solo march to save Teddy Evans' life - for which he received the Albert Medal for Bravery," Noel Spillane of Annascaul Walks said. "Those who finish this walk will also receive a specially commissioned Tom Crean Memorial Medal."
A three-hour walk along the Tom Crean Trail will also take place on the Saturday, offering a more moderate alternative to the endurance walk.
Other events during the festival, which runs from June 21 - 23, include talks by Crean biographer Michael Smith, Julian Evans (grandson of explorer Teddy Evans) and present day explorers Frank Nugent and Mike Barry. A performance of a special dance - Dancing with Death - devised by Martin Percival of PYC Productions in Colorado will also take place, along with the staging of 'Tom Crean The One Man Show' by Aidan Dooley. Plenty of family entertainment is also scheduled.
"This festival is a dream come true for me," said Eileen Percival of the South Pole Inn, the pub established by Tom Crean himself upon returning to Annascaul from his travels. "I am delighted that so many high profile personalities associated with Tom Crean are taking part."
The Tom Crean International Festival will take place in Annascaul from June 21 to 23. More information plus a full programme of events is now available at the Annascaul Walks website, AnnascaulWalks.org. Additional information is also available on the festival page on Facebook.