Although strong sunshine was a factor in the success of the Wexford Walking Trail Festival last weekend, there was no doubt that the trails themselves and the local communities involved were the real reason for the success. Walking events were held in Gorey, Tara Hill, Oulart Hill and Killanerin – each with its own theme to highlight the unique characteristic of the trail.
The sense of pride at local level at each of the trails was evident when volunteers turned out offering hospitality and a welcome to walkers as they returned from each walk. Cups of tea and snacks were laid out as walkers converged in appreciation of the complimentary fare. There was a great sense of comradeship and exploration, many unaware of the trail treasures in their own area. While support at local level was crucial to the enjoyment of the festival, credit must also be given to those who supported the festival : Apex Geoservices; Ashdown Park Hotel; Cait Branigan; Murphy’s Gala Shop, Kilanerin; Oulart Hill Group; Stena Line Ferries; Wexford County Council and Wexford Lavender Farm.
The festival attracted walkers from many parts of Wexford and Dublin and even a walker from Australia who accessed information on the Wexford Walking Trail facebook page while travelling in France.
Walks varied in tone and theme, starting with the ‘shamanic’ walk in Gorey which set the scene for the whole weekend, Garrett Keogh’s inspirational talk at the Welcome Reception in the Ashdown Park Hotel, the scenic and historic guided walk on Tara Hill, the walk on Oulart Hill whose highlight was the Autumnal Equinox but also incorporated a threshing event and storytelling and music at the Bygone Days Storytelling House. The festival culminated on the Kilanerin Trail with a super foraging event led by Mary & Robert White which entertained and delighted all who took part. The response from walkers was hugely positive, with Rita from Ardamine commenting ‘it was the best weekend she’d spent in years’. Plans for the location of next year’s festival will start in the coming weeks.
The trails themselves were presented at their best in the sunshine. As members of the Wexford Walking Trail network, trails availed of funding and supports accessed by the network from government agencies, County Councillors; and Wexford County Council whose ongoing support ensures the sustainability of the network. Their funding was vital as network trails are required to reach a standard which calls for installation of waymark posts, trailhead signs and improvement of trail surfaces where necessary. Tremendous progress has been made on network trails and great credit is due to the volunteers who represent their trails in the network.