THE annual St Stephen's Day walk is as important a part of Christmas in Tralee as turkey and presents and this year, despite some truly awful weather, people once again came out in their droves to take part.
Organiser Michael 'Fox' Connor estimated that between 700 and 800 people took part in the walk with all funds raised going to the Kerry Hospice Foundation's Palliative Care Unit at Kerry General Hospital.
Though numbers were down, mainly due to the stormy weather and forecasted heavy rain and high winds, Fox Connor said he was delighted with the turnout.
While the final tally hasn't been counted organisers said that somewhere in the region of €6,000 had been raised.
A special donation was also made by the Sugrue family who own and run Belfield Christmas Trees.
Once again the walk, now in its 14th year, was held in honour of the late Bill Kirby whose Brogue Inn has been the spiritual home of the event since its inception. Though the bar is sadly now closed the walk is still based there and began and ended outside the Rock Street institution.
Special thanks were also paid to the gardaí and civil defence for their invaluable assistance.
"It was a fantastic day. Despite the weather we had a great turnout and I'd like to thank everyone who took part.
"The numbers were down because of the weather but we still had a big crowd," said Fox.
"We were lucky enough in that we missed the rain.
"The walk finished just before 1pm and the rain started lashing down at 20 past so were were in just in time thank God," he said.
Anyone who took part and who still has sponsorship cards and money is asked to return then as soon as they can so the money raised can be presented to the Kerry Hospice Foundation as soon as possible.