Marty and Noelle Holland pictured in the Fanad Lodge with Brid and Rachael McAteer and grand daughter Aoife McAteer-Duffy.
While it may well be a very long way from Clare to here… in the Fanad Peninsula in North Donegal, it is much longer on foot. And much more distant if you decide to walk in an anti-clockwise direction from Ballyvaughan on the Clare-Galway border in the north west corner of the famed Burren.
But Marty Holland is relaxed if not a little weather beaten as he takes time out in the Fanad Lodge on Friday night to talk to us about his round Ireland Coastal Walk for the Irish Cancer Society.
In the past week, he’s had free accommodation with Anne Campbell in Ardeen House in Ramelton: the Yurts at Portsalon, the Fanad Lodge for two nights and then onto Carrigart to enjoy the hospitality of a friend from college days.
Marty is relishing the challenge and bang on track to complete his gruelling 4,000 kilometres walk on schedule back home by the end of June.
This walk, while very much for the Irish Cancer Society is also about much more… the deaths of Marty’s two close friends is the inspiration behind the journey. And as he reflects on the enormity of his challenge, you can immediately see his steely determination and the kind of confidence that keeps him going. Day after day out on lonely isolated coastal roads with only the sea and sky for company…but Marty has a goal in life and now he can begin to dream the dream that he is achieving something very special.
As the former West Belfast man continues his journey, he stopped off in Fanad at the weekend where he was the very special guest of Brendan McAteer and the staff at the Fanad Lodge for two nights.
And his target is €50,000 which he is confident he will achieve and the generosity he has experienced in Donegal and Northern Ireland has blown him away.
Epic round Ireland walk
The epic round Ireland walk began on the Clare-Galway border in Ballyvaughan last May in tribute to the memories of two friends who died from cancer, said Marty on Friday night in Fanad where he was joined by his wife Noelle who’d make the long trek northwards from their home in Cratloe, County Clare.
Marty resumed the second leg of walk just after Easter after a winter break and he is fighting fit as he continues his trek around Donegal’s coast and then westwards, touching on Leitrim as he heads for Sligo and the rugged Galway coastline, finishing where he began in Ballyvaughan.
And along the way he is being given free bed and lodgings through a his Facebook campaign and that is where Rachel McAteer of the Fanad Lodge came to his assistance with the offer of two nights in her dad’s pub and restaurant out near Fanad Head.
The Fanad Lodge was Marty’s base during his walks in the local area and across in Carrigart.
On Sunday morning Marty set out from Carrigart after completing Downings and the Atlantic Drive on Saturday. He was heading out past Lackagh Bridge and with a strong wind in his favour into Creealough, Dunfanaghy and then out to Horn Head before heading into the Donegal Gaeltacht.
Marty will be finished in Ten days in Donegal
And beyond that he will be finsished in Donegal in approximately ten days time. And he’s counting the days and the miles…. as he adds up the donations flooding in on Facebook and reacts with amazement at how his exploits have fired up public support and matching contributions.
In his trek across Northern Ireland he raised £9,500 for The Friends of the Cancer Centre in Belfast.
He was inspired to undertake this walk in an anti-clockwise route after two of his best friends lost their battle with cancer. Michael O’Regan was from Tralee while John O’Reilly was a neighbour in their formative years in West Belfast: but fate ordained they’d end up as neighbours in Clare.
These deaths touched Marty in a very personal way. He felt compelled to do something in tribute to their memories. The idea was a leap of faith into the unknown, he confesses but it has proved to be such a rewarding experience: meeting with the kind of generosity: people whom he’d never known offering him a bed for the night and the hundreds of gestures that have kept him going.
He’s a very focused man and a keen photographer and into nature and the environment. So walking is more than just that. He is sponsored by the office of the Ordnance Survey who’ve also provided him with the detailed maps of the coastline.
Marty is 66 years of age and as he gazes across the Fanad skyline, he’d easily pass for ten years younger.
How to help
So far he has been welcomed into over dozens of private homes, and is appealing to locals everywhere to help him out by donating at https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/coast-for-cancer
To donate visit https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/coast-for-cancer
Those interested in mapping his progress can follow Marty’s blog and check for Twitter updates @CoastForCancer. In the blog, a personalised link to the MyCharity website will enable those who wish to make an on-line donation to do so.