a walk in my shoes, or runners or hiking boots…hikes and trails

While gazing at Instagram during that lazy week between Christmas day and New Year’s day when time seems to stand still, bleary eyed from late nights of endless games of Monopoly, and watching films at 3am , I came across a friends Instagram story that stopped me in my scrolling.

He had posted snow filled photos with drifts that were as high as his chest. Intrigued I messaged “Where are you? The North Pole?” To my surprise he replied that the arctic photos had been taken while he was trekking at Keeper Hill.

This exchange reminded me, as I sat wrapped in a fleece blanket in a warm house, that I had always wanted to try hill walking, and with the New Year resolutions looming, I quietly made a promise to myself that I would follow up on this long held ambition.

My experienced hiking friend suggested I join the Ballyhoura Bears club, which I had looked into many years ago, but just never got around to joining.

Mud filled, squelchy runners

So my first hike was up the Castlegale Loop near Kilfinnane. I met with the club members at the base of the trail. They were all kitted out for their trek, with hiking boots, trekking poles, fleece headbands to keep their ears warm and back packs filled with bottles of water, nibbles and warm drinks. I decided to try out my new venture to see if I enjoyed it, before I committed to buying the T-shirt, or equipment.

As we climbed the first part of the trail, my runners did not stand me well as my feet kept slipping in the squelchy mud, and they were soon filled with water. We climbed a stony slope, ducking under fallen trees, through sludgy pools, slipping and sliding, laughing like children as we tried to stay upright.

Eventually we reached the summit and the views and beautiful scenery made the climb worthwhile. As the wind howled and swirled around us, I was amazed at the sense of achievement that swept over me, a little bit of that Everest feeling that mountain climbers must feel, from conquering the elements.

Me windswept at the summit of Castlegale

Runners alright on the Greenway

At this point I decided to join the club as I had enjoyed the last hike so much.

My membership card


The next outing was a 13K charity walk on the Greenway which started at the back of Rathkeale Hotel and goes to Newcastle West.

Like many of these Greenways around Ireland, it used to be the old railway track, and is now a great trail for both cyclists and walkers.

The countryside scenery was lovely, a different angle on an area I have known most of my life. This time my freshly cleaned runners were the right footwear for this walk, that was more of a test of endurance than skill. I found my pace and reached my destination, where a welcome cup of tea awaited us, it mostly spilt all over me as I struggled to hold the mug in my numb hands, but the drop of tea I managed to sip never tasted so good.

Hiking boots first outing in Ballinaboola

My new hiking boots were christened in the Ballinaboola Forest, they weren’t really necessary, runners would have sufficed, as there was a good roadway through the forest. This also seems to be an ideal track for mountain bikers, as we passed many of them on the way.

Physically I found this the most challenging hike so far, as it was a continuous upward incline, and the way back down was tricky too.

Good for the mind, body, spirit

I have enjoyed my adventures with the Ballyhoura Bears so far and look forward to discovering more tracks and trails in our beautiful countryside. Is Everest calling? You never know. For me nothing can beat the outdoors, being active and being in the heart of nature.

It’s both physically and mentally stimulating, and in a time when we are constantly being reminded to mind our mental health, it’s a pastime that ticks all the boxes. Maybe I’ll try mountain biking next.

I would like to take my dog, but since she finds a fifteen minute walk around the block challenging, I think I would probably end up carrying her most of the way.

Castletroy and District Lions host ASIST

Civil Defence volunteer Gary Shanahan would feel more confident to help someone in distress having completed the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) course which recently took place in the Castletroy Park hotel, hosted by the Castletroy and District Lions Club.

In Ireland more than 20,000 people have taken this course since it was development in 1983, more than a million people have taken the ASIST course, which is a two day workshop in suicide first aid. The Living Works’ ASIST programme was developed in Canada in 1983 and is a Health Service Initiative (HSE) started in 2003. Starting in Canada in the early 1980s, More than half a million people have participated worldwide – over 20,000 in Ireland. The NOSP was formed directly after the launch of Ireland’s first suicide prevention strategy; Reach Out: A National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention 2005-2014. The NOSP coordinates ASIST at a national level.

The course trains participants to reduce the immediate risk of a suicide and increase the support for a person at risk. It also provides opportunities to learn what a person at risk may need in order to keep safe and get more help and it encourages honest, open and direct talk about suicide as part of preparing people to provide suicide first aid.

Gary, who is a Swiftwater and Flood Responder Instructor joined the Civil Defence in 2010 said, “A huge part of what we do is search and rescue. Often the person we are searching for may be in a distress state with intent to harming themselves. Our goal is to find the person before any harm can come to them. Once found it is vital to keep the person safe until they receive the help they need. I knew from talking to others that have done this course that it would give me the skills to keep that person safe.”

The Civil Defence is largely made up of volunteers who come from all backgrounds. There are between 3,500 to 4,000 volunteers throughout the country. Each county is then managed by a Civil Defence Officer who are employees of the local authority. The Civil Defence college is based in Roscrea and the staff that work there are employed by the Department of Defence.

 “Apart from meeting some fantastic likeminded people, I feel I gained a lot from the course. It gave me the confidence to approach a person in distress. The skills I learned gave me a clear end goal and a structure on how to get there. It was emotionally tough at times but well worth doing,” added Gary.

 The Castletroy and District Lions Club host the ASIST every year. 

For people who are affected to www.yourmentalhealth.ie for further information on services and also the 24/7 free phone numbers for Samaritan’s 116123 and Pieta House on 1800 247 247

Gary Shanahan


Lotus Yoga Centre

A group of friends made their dream of working together come true, when the Lotus Yoga Centre opened on January 16, 2017.

Yoga instructors Mags McInerney, Pamela Enright, Julie Madigan and Caroline Kerley are united through their love of yoga, and have become such close friends over the years that they feel like family.

“It was my idea to open the centre. The girls and I had expressed an interest in working together and it just evolved from there. I feel everyone should do Yoga.  Not because I teach it but the benefits I have got from it, I wanted to share with others.  I also wanted my Mother to take up Yoga and I felt if I taught her in the right environment she would love it,’ said Caroline.

Caroline started practising Yoga under the direction of Michele Ryan of the Limerick Yoga Centre eight years ago, and quickly became so enthusiastic about it that she went on Yoga holidays and workshops.

“Pamela Enright told me that she was going to do a Yoga Teaching Course and would I be interested.  I went along with the attitude that if it didn’t do anything else it would improve my Yoga practice, but, after the first day I knew I had found something that it would be remiss of me not to share with others. I started studying to teach Yoga over a year ago,” added Caroline.

With the help of Tony Wallace of Rooney Auctioneers, Caroline soon found a suitable premises and her husband Noel Kerley with help from Robert Simring within a month had the premises renovated, resulting in a bright, airy, comfortable, warm and relaxing space.

Caroline is delighted and overwhelmed with the response and interest in the classes, and

would encourage anyone at any age to seek out a Yoga class and give it time. In particular she enjoys seeing people improve their posture, self-confidence and to learning how to relax.

“Yoga brings us face to face with the complexity of our own being.  It allows you to blossom in so many ways regardless of your ability. It’s not just about touching your toes or standing on your head, it’s about how you live your life on a daily basis.  Yoga is not about self improvement it’s more about self acceptance. The improvement will come when you allow yourself to be where you are.

“My hopes are that it will continue to go from strength to strength and that people who never tried Yoga before will come and try it and feel the benefit of the changes that Yoga can make to your life.  I love teaching Yoga as much as I love my self practice.  I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share it,” added Caroline.

Lotus Yoga Centre

4C Shannonville Ennis Road



087 2837638