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Millstreet hospitality energises Breifne on the Beara way


Leitrim travel writer and adventurer Breifne Earley is nearing the completion of his 500km walk through the Beara Breifne Way.

En route, the appropriately Christian named Breifne enjoyed North Cork hospitality at an event that recalled a moving chapter in Irish history. The Breifne Way promotes one of the longest trails in Ireland involving over 60 community groups and recent developments includes a footbridge over the river Blackwater outside Millstreet.

Over four centuries ago in 1602, the home of the O'Sullivan Bere clan in Dunboy, West Cork was destroyed after the defeat of the Irish and Spanish at Kinsale.

Donal Cam and his supporters engaged in a campaign of revenge, but his herd of 4,000 cattle and 2,000 sheep were taken by Crown forces, and he was faced with starvation.

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They had no choice but to set out for the O'Rourkes in Leitrim, and did so in bitter winter weather during January. Over 1,000 men, women and children left the Beara peninsula, but only 35 arrived in Leitrim some weeks later, with just one woman among them.

Some left to settle along the route, the O'Sullivan surname evident in Mid and North Cork and elsewhere as can the Collins and O'Shea name be traced back to the original clans.

This January, Breifne re-enacted the march and is on the homeward trek against a backdrop of a man that stepped back from the brink of suicide in 2010. But, less than five years later he was first across the finish line of the longest endurance sports event in the world, the 30,000km long World Cycle Race.

The challenge involved sixteen months cycling through 27 countries on 5 continents with three robberies, three crashes and 44 flat tyres to become a living, breathing example of the life-saving message "It's okay not to feel okay."

On his latest venture, Breifne set off on New Year's Eve from Glengarriffe and taking on the famous 500km trek. It involved the crossing the river Blackwater at the landmark Boeing near Millstreet. "It's been an amazing and whirlwind journey so far, many miles covered, thousands of calories burned and hundreds of new friends made", he said.