A Walker’s Experience – Kathleen Beggs

Back in the summer Kathleen Beggs, Mary Daly and Bridie Hamdam, who belong to ‘The West Tyrone Ramblers,’ completed the 165km National Famine Way. We were so happy to hear from Kathleen firsthand about her experience walking the National Famine Way.

We asked Kathleen what had made her want to complete the walk and her goal for the journey and it was Kathleen’s friend, Mary Daly, who knew about the walk. Kathleen said she was very keen and excited to get going and complete the 100 miles, which of course the three friends did!

As Kathleen walked along the National Famine Way she said she thought about what had happened years ago – the 1,490 had been offered a grim choice of emigration through “assisted passage”, starvation on their blighted potato-patch farms or a place in the terrifying workhouse.  Kathleen also pondered on how this could have been prevented. We heard that one of Kathleen’s most memorable highlights of her journey was meeting the many different people along the way and hearing their stories. She felt this was a highlight of her walk. We asked Kathleen if she had encountered any challenges and she felt her biggest challenge was part of the walk itself – the initial 14-mile road walk to Cloondara from Strokestown before they reached The Canal.

The walk certainly had an impact on Kathleen as she, “…couldn’t help but think of the poor souls and what they suffered along the way.” Kathleen would like to encourage anyone thinking of walking or wanting to walk the National Famine Way to go for it. She said she would even, “happily join them” and added: “And I’m a pensioner!”

It was so clear that Kathleen had really enjoyed the walk she completed with her friends – the feeling of great accomplishment, how the National Famine Way had allowed Kathleen to think back to that period in the 1840s, what had happened to the 1,490 and how this could easily have been prevented will be a lasting and fabulous memory for Kathleen and her three friends.

We would like to thank Kathleen for taking the time to let us know all about her walk – her feelings before going on the walk, whilst completing it and the impact it has had on her since. If you would like to complete the walk, you can apply for your passport online. Click here for more information.

Lastly, as a reminder to cyclists, please could we encourage all cyclists to have bells on their bikes and to make use of them when approaching walkers whilst cycling along The National Famine Way.