Not many would travel the length of the country by foot these days, especially during a heatwave, but that’s exactly what one Meath pig farm manager recently did.
Martin Sheridan (45) from Moylagh carried out a 498km walk from the tip of the country in Malin Head in Co Donegal to the picturesque village of Sneem in Co Kerry in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.
Martin completed the challenge when the country was experiencing record high temperatures of up to 32C, and he managed to raise a remarkable €12,000.
He says he decided to complete the challenge for the charity in memory of his father-in-law Michael Smith, who died from oesophagal cancer.
“He was only 43 when he died. I just wanted to raise funds for such an important charity. The challenge was hard but when you hear stories of people who have undergone treatment for cancer, that’s obviously much worse,” says Martin, who is manages a pig farm across the county border in Cavan.
The towns and villages that Martin crossed on his journey along the way included: Enniskillen, Drumlish, Ballyahown, Nenagh and the Molls Gap on the Ring of Kerry.
Martin adds that his wife Nicole and sons were a great support along the way and that he met wonderful people on his travels.
“I’ve done marathons before and other walks but never anything like this,” he says. “When people heard that I’d be passing through they stood out to greet me in towns.
“I met so many fantastic people and heard stories from people who had cancer or of those who had died of it.
While walking for ten or 12 hours may not be everyone’s idea of fun during sweltering conditions, Martin says he enjoyed every minute of it
“The country never looked better. Everything was lovely and I was very lucky with the weather thank god,” he says.
Martin was also inspired by the Moylagh JFK 50 Mile Challenge, which has been taking place for the last seven years to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society.
The event takes its inspiration from former US President John F Kennedy’s push for 50-mile challenge events to be held around the US in 1963 in an effort to get the country back to physical fitness.
While most of the 50 mile events were never held again following JFK’s assassination in late ’63, the JFK 50 Mile Memorial takes place in Washington County in Maryland every year.
The Moylagh route starts in the village and finishes in Drumone each year, with the charity having raised €500,000 for the Irish Cancer Society since it began seven years ago.