Donegal dazzled in a blistering Autumn heatwave for Donegal Camino 2023 which has so far raised €60,000 from this year’s walk for Cancer Care West Services in Donegal. The fund is rising and organisers invite all walkers to return their sponsorship cards as soon as possible while also making a another call out for support to the people and businesses of Donegal to make the 2023 donation the biggest yet. The Donegal Camino idonate page remains open Donegal Camino| Fundraising Event Ireland (idonate.ie) up to the 8th of October 2023 and if you can spare a couple of Euros it will all help support cancer sufferers and their families all across Donegal.
519 people walked the 2023 Donegal Camino from the 3rd to the 9th of September with an average of 75 daily walkers. This year’s attendance included walkers from Rhode Island and Boston, New Zealand, France, Scotland, Dublin, Cork, Clare, the Midlands Galway and of course all across Northern Ireland and Donegal. All of whom commented on the warm welcome they received and the excellent Guides of John Mc Groary, Joe Coyle, Denis Sheridan and Michael Devaney who ensured the ultimate of safety was maintained for the entire 7 days.
The pinnacle of this years Donegal Camino was most certainly the poignant sunrise climb of Errigal, Donegal’s highest peak. Starting out in the dark at 4.30am, the award winning guide John Mc Groary and his team led 70 walkers in single file on a precious climb. The crunch of the ground underneath was the only sound as walkers trailed to the summit bringing with them their prayers, thoughts and life stories. Joined at the top by renowned Donegal composer and fiddle player, Matt Mc Granahan, he invited fellow walkers to sit and be with their thoughts as he played a moving rendition of Nearer My God to Thee. Tears were shed, hugs were shared for this most moving and haunting of moments which brought walkers together for what is the true ethos of a camino pilgrimage – personal prayer and connecting with one another. Buncrana woman Jennifer Doherty who was born blind and is no stranger to serious adventure challenges once again joined Donegal Camino and walked a number of days including the climb of Errigal.
Originally founded by Inishowen business woman Peggy Stringer, its fitting that the Donegal Camino starts on her home turf and Ireland’s highest point Malin Head. From there followed 5 magical days taking in the breathtaking scenery and height of the Knockalla Mountain Ridge followed by the spectacular views of Horn Head loop walk where 93 walkers were entertained by Donegal’s Mickey Joe Harte, a loyal annual supporter of the Donegal Camino. From here followed the sunrise climb of Errigal after which the Donegal Camino went off shore to the rugged Gaeltacht Island of Toraigh or Tory for an overnight stay. From the Waves of Tory on the dance floor, walkers were treated the following day to the beautiful Tory island cliffs and a bilingual guided history tour of the island by Anton Meenan along with and open air Céilí dancing session and a delicious Gallaghers Bakehouse picnic. Gallaghers Bakehouse are a staunch partner of the Donegal Camino.
The final two days of the 2023 Donegal Camino were spent in the south west of the county. Under a cloudless sky on Friday 8th, walkers started out from the picturesque Assaranka Waterfall, on a hike and walk of Maghera Ardara and Granny Glen. A treat of a delicious picnic from Simple Simon’s of Donegal Town was also part of the day. Europe’s highest sea cliffs, Sliabh Liag were once again the finalé on Day 7. A mist descended on the final day but it didn’t dampen the spirits of walkers who were led home to the Sliabh Liag Visitor Centre by Donegal Camino Committee member and Cancer Care West Board member Noel Cunningham and the Kilcar Pipe Band. Glasgow musician Seamus O’Sullivan entertained walkers daily and led each walk with resounding renditions of the Donegal Camino anthem “This is my homeland.”
A tremendous week of walking, hiking, talking, singing and sharing of personal stories by all walkers was had amidst the most stunning scenery of Donegal which most certainly wowed all walkers. All of which was celebrated with dinner and a rousing sing song in the Rusty Macheral in Teelin. Annette Hassett Operations Manager of Cancer Care West walked the 7 days and she described it as a very “emotional” experience. “We don’t receive any state funding for our Donegal Support Centre and rely totally on donations and the generosity of the public. To watch the sheer volume of walkers, the organising of the Donegal Camino Committee and volunteers and the spontaneous entertainment while sharing in the experiences of each of the walkers I’ve met was simply fabulous. All of this coupled with the stunning walks is beyond incredible and we’re so very grateful to each and everyone involved and who donates. The Donegal Camino is now the leading source of funds for Cancer Care West services in Donegal”, says Annette Hassett of Cancer Care West.
Founder Peggy Stringer says, “I’m literally blown away by the growth in the 2023 Donegal Camino, it’s beyond my wildest dreams and it’s simply a breathtaking to experience it, the people, the scenery, walks and to support Cancer Care West, a cause very close to my heart”.
Former owner of Harvey’s Point, Deirdre Mc Glone went onto say “Along with generating much needed funds for Cancer Care West, we’re also showcasing Donegal as a world class destination for walking and hiking and this week in the glorious sunshine there’s no place else one could be but here on the Donegal Camino with walkers from all over Ireland and as far away as North America and New Zealand all choosing to be here with us on this most special of Caminos.”
Noel Cunningham Board Member of Cancer Care West and Harvey’s Point Ambassador, said “Cancer Care West plays a huge role in the lives of Donegal Cancer victims and their families. The Donegal Camino is fast becoming the leading fundraising event in the Cancer Care West calendar. Blessed with fantastic walkers who fundraise and the generosity of our partners and sponsors, we now ask everyone to continue to support us and donate until the 8th of October. Lets make this our biggest donation yet.”
The Donegal Camino is beyond grateful to its funders and partners for their generous support and of course the registered walkers who work so hard to fundraise throughout the year. A huge Thank You goes to all the walkers and to Donegal Tourism, Gallagher’s Bakehouse, 3D Personnel, Sendmode, Harvey’s Point, Donegal Airport and to all who gave sponsorship, lunches, water, provided entertainment and so on.
Organised, operated and managed by a voluntary committee and a group of big hearted volunteers, the Donegal Camino includes founder Peggy Stringer along with Committee members, Deirdre McGlone, Noel Cunningham, Noreen D’Arcy and John Mc Namara. The panel of Volunteers includes, Danny Kelly, Sean Doherty, Carl Gysling and photographer Colm Canny.
Continue to donate to Donegal Camino on Donegal Camino| Fundraising Event Ireland (idonate.ie) and follow our website and social media for updates www.donegalcamino.ie and @donegalcamino for all the latest updates.