An English couple with Galway connections, who walked across Ireland to raise funds for a British breast cancer prevention charity, said they were “deeply touched” by the generosity and kindness of the people they met along the way.
David and Rosie McNamara began their 150 mile cross country challenge on St Patrick’s Day in Dublin and completed it on Saturday March 26 at Moran’s the Weir, Kilcolgan. They expect to raise €5,000 from the fundraiser in aid of Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Appeal, the only UK charity dedicated entirely to preventing breast cancer.
David, a breast and prostate cancer survivor, decided to take on the 10 day challenge to raise awareness and funds to help create a future without breast cancer, a condition which affects men as well as women.
He was accompanied by his wife, Rosie, whose family are from Galway. She has been visiting here since she was five years old. Her father Sean Feeney was from Clifden while her mother Teresa Maher was from Loughrea (Her first cousin James Maher and his family live there in New Line today ). Rosie’s parents lived in Raleigh Row in the city before moving to England.
Both teachers, the McNamaras who live in Cumbria, are keen walkers. They drove along the route originally in October planning to do the journey as part of a walking holiday. Then, they decided to make it a fundraiser.
“We like walking, we live in the Lake District,” says Rosie. “We’ve walked in Spain and did the Moon Walk in London previously. The idea of walking to raise money for a good cause appealed to us. Dave was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, his was genetic - his mother died of it. By doing the walk we wanted to make men aware that they can get it, too. The charity we chose is a breast cancer prevention one, with Dave’s cancer being genetic it raised the whole issue of prevention. We’ve been coming here together for 30 years so it was a natural choice to walk here. We had fantastic support from our parish church in Kendal, our local pub and our daughter’s company.”
The McNamaras walked an average of 15 miles a day setting off at 10.30am after a good breakfast and continuing until around 5pm. Dave, who climbed the Matterhorn in the past and will be 63 next week, developed blisters early in the journey which were very painful, he says. “On day two I got two massive blisters, one on each foot. My boots let me down.” Rosie says she was “good on the flat but not on the hills”.
They were joined for the final three days of the walk by Dave’s brother who lives in Oxfordshire.
“We would set off in the morning after a good breakfast but we did not have a lunch. By evening time we were hungry and tired.” So tired, says Rosie that they fell asleep instantly, “it was a near death sleep, it was like we were unconscious.”
They were deeply touched by the kindness of strangers along the route. “We passed people outside Edenderry who were gardening one day and they said it was a lovely day for a walk. They asked us where we were from and when we told them they ran inside and came out with €10 and two cans of Seven Up for us.”
On another occasion a taxidriver who heard about their charity walk offered to take them sightseeing and took them to see the Bog of Allen and a nature reserve.
“People were incredibly good natured. Several stopped and asked us if we wanted a lift. In Tullamore we went to the chemist’s and they took out everything, plasters, gels, etc for our feet. They did everything to help.”
Dave carried a sign on his back at the start and end of the trip explaining about the purpose of their journey. They also wore pink tutus - the symbol of the Genesis charity - over their clothes then which attracted a lot of attention.
The McNamaras received a warm welcome when they arrived at Moran’s on the Weir on Saturday at 2pm after completing the final leg of their 150 mile challenge which began on Sandymount Strand.
“It was amazing, we were extremely well received,” says Rosie. “There was a fantastic celebration. We had a drink and a nice meal. We are so grateful to everyone. We would never have done anything like this had Dave not being ill. The lesson we learned really is that you can do more than you think you can.”
Dave agrees. “I never doubted we would do this. I’m 63 and I have had two cancers yet I can still do things. There is nothing to stop you doing anything you want.”