Country Study: Long Distance Walking in Ireland

Update on “Country Study” of Long Distance Walking In Ireland

Beginning November 2015 I made three trips to Ireland to visit my wife, Laurel, and decided to learn about how long distance walking in Ireland. With advice from Irish colleagues Cormac MacDonnell of the National Trails Office, writer/walker Michael Fewer, and many others, I gradually shaped an approach: writing an overview of walking in Ireland based in large part on reporting on three walks I took, writing a detailed case study for each of these Waymarked Ways, and writing profiles of some interesting people I met. On three separate trips I spent 5-6 weeks of my time in Ireland walking and working on this project. Below is a summary of my work to date. Following this is a brief explanation and update on this work in developing “Country Studies”  .

The 9 post links below, plus the overview sketch I’m working on, will eventually be woven together into an overall “country study”.

SUMMARY OF ELEMENTS OF COUNTRY STUDY

A. ELEMENTS NOT YET COMPLETED:

  1. Overview sketch of how long distance walking is supported in Ireland (hope to finish by end of 2016)
  2. Profile of JB Malone

B. ELEMENTS OF COUNTRY STUDY COMPLETED SO FAR, WITH LINKS:

  1. Burren Way
  2. Kerry Way
  3. Wicklow Way

My aims in undertaking this study were to:

  • walk some of the great National Way-marked Ways in Ireland,
  • meet some of the folks who manage and use them,
  • learn as much as I could about they came to be and how they operate,
  • share what I learned on hut2hut.info, and through this work to
  • begin to learn what questions to ask,methods to use, and how long it will take to address my formidable learning curve in understanding in some depth how different nations support and organize Long Distance Walking.

My long term aim is to develop a comparative view of Long Distance Walking across a set of nations.

I am extremely grateful to many colleagues in Ireland for sharing their expertise and taking time to talk with me! The Irish are a famously hospitable folk, and walking their trails is a warm and sociable experience. 

The primary audience for this work is American recreation planners curious about how LDW is conducted in other nations. I hope my work might also serve as a useful starting point for others interested in studying in greater depth how LDW works in Ireland. In just two generations and with limited resources, Ireland  has developed a robust walking culture and network of trails, clubs, and organizations. I believe Americans should know more about this remarkable accomplishment. A secondary audience is American walkers looking for great trails with accommodations.

Alas these reports contain much more detail than will interest most of my readers, but I enjoyed learning so much from Irish colleagues and trust the work will be of interest to some folks in USA.

In just two generations and with comparatively limited resources, Ireland has developed a vibrant walking culture and a robust network of trails, trail communities, clubs, and organizations. I believe Americans — and others — can learn from this remarkable accomplishment.

And put Ireland on your list of really great places to walk!!

Happy trails,

Sam