About 200 people gathered at the Lough at lunchtime on Tuesday, joining Newstalk broadcaster Ciara Kelly for Day 25 of this year’s 100 Days of Walking, and the first group walk since the Covid-19 pandemic began two years ago.
It was a bright, crisp day, and the walkers, the majority of them women, did three brisk and good-humoured rounds of the Lough.
Dr Kelly said she was delighted with the turn-out, and said she always loves coming to Cork.
“I’ve had a fantastic time, she said.
“It’s the first group walk this year, it’s the first group walk since before the pandemic, and what a genuinely lovely bunch of people, so friendly, so decent, and it’s just a lovely, warm community.
“I feel like I have a connection with this group because we feel like a tribe, we’re all out walking the roads around the country in different spots, but we’re walking sort of together, in solidarity.”
Walking in solidarity today was one of the few token males, Senator Jerry Buttimer, who was in great form. He and Dr Kelly have been firm friends since, several years ago, she went through him for a short cut during a debate on Fine Gael’s health policies on RTÉ’s The Late Debate. “I still bear the stud marks,” he said with a grin.
“There’s a group of us within the Fine Gael parliamentary party, and this is our second year of doing 100 Days of Walking,” he told The Echo.
“For me it’s about getting the work/life balance right, it’s about the importance of physical exercise, diet, nutrition, and I find when I walk every day, it helps my mental health, it helps my efficiency, and I feel much better for getting the walking done.”
Alison Chambers, walking promotion officer with Cork Sports Partnership, said it had been a great turnout, and the event had had a real feel-good atmosphere.
“Our remit in Cork Sports Partnership is to get more people more active through sports and physical activity around Cork city and county,” she said.
“My role is to promote the network that already exists, like walking groups around Cork city and county, and brilliant community leaders.
“Initiatives like this, and our own Cork walking promotions, National Walking Day, are going to be touchpoints along the year to celebrate the network,” Ms Chambers said.
For Ciara Kelly, 100 Days of Walking has become a fun tradition, one which has had real benefits for those taking part.
“A lot of people have come up to me and said ‘January’s a bit of a crap month, and we’ve had crap times’, and this has given them that structure of every day, going out, and it lifted them, and I know, because it lifts me,” she said “I’m enthusiastic, I’ve had a wonderful time in Cork, I’ll have to come back!”