A walk too far for thirsty adventurer

World champion walker Robert Heffernan is an inspiration to us all. By taking gold in Moscow the Corkman did his country proud.

I presume at this stage everyone in his hometown of Togher is out walking, like crazy.

Even tucked away here in West Cork, miles from Togher, walking has become very fashionable, at least it has with me.

Last Friday evening, feeling a bit like Robert Heffernan myself, I decided to do a spot of walking.

With a terrible thirst on me, I set out to walk to Seano’s pub in Kilmurry village. I could then have a few pints, you see, without fear of the squad.

This walk was no stroll. The bones of four miles of open country. Four miles of hills, potholes and boreens.

Determination is, of course, the key to success, as Shackleton or Scott would say.

And so I set out on Friday evening just like Robert Heffernan, putting one foot in front of the other.

I started out with a torch in one hand, and before long, I had a big stick in the other. Cross dogs along the way being the reason for taking up arms.

As I journeyed on, I met little by way of traffic, except for flocks of birds passing overhead. And as it got darker, the odd bat appeared.

Two miles from base camp, and with darkness descending fast, I came to what long distance athletes call ‘the wall’. But determined as ever, I forged ahead, focusing on my prize, the creamy pint that awaited me.

Arriving in Kilmurry, I planted my big stick inside the walls of the old cemetery. I would need it for the journey home.

I entered Seano’s bar looking like someone who had spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. The walk had taken a lot out of me. But I did it.

Disbelief is the only way I can describe the reaction I received from my old pal John, when I revealed that I had walked. Praise was heaped onto my shoulders from all quarters. Comparisons were made between myself and super swimmer Steve Redmond. All I was really short was Steve’s protective coating of grease.

But, as the night wore on, and I downed a few pints to quench my thirst, the walk began to look less like an adventure and more like an ordeal.

And I thought about my journey home. It was going to be even darker. I would need to go back into that old graveyard for my big stick. And there were the bats to contend with.

Then I started thinking about the commercial where your man is walking home from the pub in the dark, and the footpath is cracking up in front of his inebriated eyes. And even though I would be facing little by way of footpaths, the message came through loud and clear.

The walk home was going to be a perilous expedition. Just when it all seemed lost, who should launch himself into the pub only Shoteen. Shoteen, the local taxi man, was there to bring home a fellow rambler who, just like me, was miles from base. Never one to see a man walking home, Shoteen rounded up a load of strays and had us all safely buckled in and on the road in no time.

Walking to the pub might be fine and good. But when it comes to the business of getting home again, that is when the likes of Shoteen can be a life saver.

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