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Railway walk to Bandon named in honour of Dr Clare OLeary

Friday, 6th December, 2013 9:17am
Railway walk to Bandon named in honour of Dr Clare OLeary


YET another positive event in the Bandon area took place last weekend with the official naming by the woman herself of the Clare O’Leary Walk, a three-kilometre section of walk along part of the former West Cork railway, parallel to the N71 highway and overlooking the River Bandon.

As stated by Mayor of Bandon Deirdre Lane and Deputy County Mayor Veronica Neville, it was to publicly honour and acknowledge the amazing achievements of the Bandon-born mountaineer, adventurer and doctor.

These include being the first Irish woman to climb Mount Everest (2004), scaling the Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each continent), trekking to the South Pole (2008) and this year, crossing the world’s largest frozen and deepest lake, Baikal, in Siberia.

Prior to unveiling the bilingual sign at the public car park located 2.8 kilometres west of Innishannon, Clare said it really meant a lot to have the walk dedicated to and named after her by her home town. ‘Bandon will always be where I’ll come home after these trips’, she said, before thanking Bandon Town Council for proposing it and the county council for following it through.

Based in Clonmel, where she works as a gastroenterology consultant, Dr O’Leary was accompanied at the unveiling by her parents Kevin and Alice O’Leary; brother John and his wife Tina and their children Tim, John and Ali; and her sister Carol with children Jule and Luca plus her long-time friend Fiona Walsh. Clare told The Southern Star that she hopes to go on an expedition to the North Pole in 2014.

Mayor Deirdre Lane said Bandon was very proud of Clare not only through her achievements as a mountaineer and explorer but also through her work for charity, and wished her all the best for the future.

Cllr Neville said it was lovely to have an event in honour of a person from the town and spoke of the incredible amount of time and energy required for what Clare had achieved, including TV footage of her pulling two tractor tyres behind her going up a mountain in Kerry in preparation for one expedition. There were downtimes too but Clare always had tremendous dedication and commitment and the support of her family and others at home in Bandon.

The walk, she pointed out, was actually constructed 20 years ago and was a very popular amenity.

She thanked Gardai Lisa O’Sullivan and Paul Cullen on traffic duty; the O’Leary’s, Bandon Golf Club and Munster Arms Hotel for the on-site catering dispensed by Breda O’Brien and Helena McCarthy; area engineer Charlie McCarthy, Noelle Desmond and the gardening section of the county council for the recent upgrade, and retired area engineer Raymond Crowley, who had the vision for the greenway walk back in 1993.

Most present availed of the benign weather to go for a stroll and they included town councillors Sean O’Donovan, Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony and Rachel McCarthy with daughter Saoirse; county councillors Kevin Murphy and Alan Coleman; Jim Daly TD; Peter and Helen Fehily, Alice Taylor, Eileen Sweetnam and Jerry Larkin of Innishannon Tidy Towns; Catherine Fitzmaurice, Pat Dooley, Pat and Margaret Fitzgerald and Kathleen Hallahan of Bandon Tidy Towns; Gearoid O’Driscoll, Bandon Chamber of Commerce; Robert Wilmot and Robert Merrick of Bandon Walking Group; Finbarr O’Donovan, Pascaline Fitzgerald, John and Marchita Donegan; Michael, Noreen and Kieran Hurley; Maria McLaughlin; Sean Kearney, Aisling Dineen and Cllr Neville’s daughter Libby.

In recent weeks, there has been the opening of the Graham Norton River Walk and the skate park in Bandon.