Aengus is a friend of mine from college in Sligo. His friends have come together with the intention of fundraising for him. Our first fundraising event is to climb Mount Snowdon on 9th May. In preparation for the climb myself and my friend Stephen recently hiked Mount Leinster and it’s neighbour Slievebawn. To read about what happened Aengus and to donate to our fundraising efforts, please visit www.friendsofaengus.com Alternatively any donation you can make via the website would be greatly appreciated!
Not all of us could join those in the Northwest for the first Snowdon training hike, and for the two that couldn’t – the hills of Carlow and Wexford lay in wait with Mount Leinster being the objective. We couldn’t have picked a better day for it. The sun shined, the odd cloud speckled the blue sky and there was a brisk chill in the air. We set off from the world famous ‘Nine Stones’, Carlow’s very own Stonehenge – a sight to behold in itself.
From here an access road leads to the top of the mountain. While the ground under our feet was smooth we soon began to feel the climb as it began to get steeper and steeper. Thankfully we came prepared and as we ascended we took regular water breaks which also allowed us to get our breadths back as well as admire the beautiful south eastern countryside. Soon we reached the pinnacle of the mountain where we were confronted with an RTE transmitting station but we didn’t let this spoil the amazing views of the surrounding Blackstairs Mountains. We could see the Irish Sea in the distance and rumour has it that on a clear day it’s possible to see the very mountain we’re all in training for, Snowdon! It took us approximately an hour from bottom to top and whilst we had a strict schedule in order to catch the six nations finale, we looked at the nearby Slievebawn and decided we’d give that a try too.
We managed to get up and down the far side of Slievebawn, as well back up and down the side we came up in another two hours and along the way we were greeted with a few hang gliders who were also out to make the most of the good weather.
Thankfully we made it home just in time for the big kick off and we were very happy we did. Now we’re looking forward to Snowdon in May, and who knows, if it’s a clear day maybe we might just see Mount Leinster
I found these guys via twitter last week. I got one of those annoying notifications that tells me 1 or more of my followers has started following these guys. Instead of clearing the notification I checked it out and i’m glad I did! CrowdT seems like a really cool idea. In short it allows you design your own tshirt, set the selling price and if you you reach a certain target you start making money! Why didn’t I think of this? It’s allowed me an easy, cost free, tentative return to the tshirt business 🙂 Check it out www.crowdt.com/campaign/yourmom and while you’re at it why not buy one!
Imagine tall majestic mountains rolling down to the powerful Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by lush green grass. Idyllic towns and villages dotted amongst the rugged peaks of the mountains, with beautiful fishing ports controlling its coastal strip. This is Cantabria and this is where myself and four others headed off as guests of the Spanish Tourist Board on a FAM (familiarisation) trip in September 2012.
When I think of Spain, I think of hot, arid, sun-drenched land. To my surprise the province of Cantabria in the North of Spain does not follow suit. Like ourselves they are used to the odd drop of rain and the grass is as green as our own Emerald Isle. Our guide for the four days was the delightful and effervescent Lisa-Lott who was always on hand in her own inimitable way to make sure we experienced everything Cantabria had to offer.
The city of Santander was our first port of call and our hotel was located on the beach of ‘El Sardinero’ overlooking the beautiful Bay of Santander with its sardine teemed waters. We visited the bustling local city market and witnessed the local fish mongers expertly fillet the biggest tuna fish I have ever seen,we seen the beautiful former summer residence of the Spanish Royal Family – the Palacio de la Magdalena, where we were informed our very own President Higgins had previously spent time studying Spanish and we stood at the Cabo Mayor lighthouse perched atop the sharp cliffs guarding the entrance to the Bay and admired the stunning views.
Next up on our itinerary was the town of Comillas. We saw some beautiful architecture here, one of which was the expansive old Jesuit University building which overlooks the town and was restored to its former glory with the help of donations and local residents. I was struck by the sheer size of the building and to me it seemed out of place however it reminded me of the past glories and conquers of the once mighty Spanish Empire. Afterwards we visited the beautiful and stunning ‘El Capricho’ designed by the famous architect Gaudi. I was surprised to find a work of Gaudis located in this part of the world but at the same time I was very excited. ‘El Capricho’ to me was the highlight of the FAM trip. This hidden gem in Comillas was truly amazing. Windows operated by a pulley system made musical sounds as they went up and down, there was stained glass designs with bizarre images of birds playing the piano or bees playing guitars – my eyes went into overdrive as everywhere I looked Gaudi had hidden something wonderful.
Our itinerary was packed full of activity and with one and a half days to go myself and my fellow travellers wondered how we would pack everything in! Alas this was no problem to our guide Lisa-lott and soon we were walking on the cobblestoned streets in the beautiful town of Santillana del Mar where we all enjoyed a delicious Spanish lunch in a historic parador. The prehistoric Cave of Altmira was our next stop, it was here that some of the earliest drawings by man were discovered. Unfortunately due to overexploitation in the early 60’s by tourism it’s not possible to view the actual caves but what you do see is an exact replica of the cave system. Our disappointments were soon overshadowed when next we visited El Soplao Cave where we took an old mining train deep into this cave system and we all oooh’ed and ahh’ed at the wonderful stalactites and stalagmites.
Cantabria is synonymous with its Picos de Europa mountain range. Myself and our group had the pleasure of a short guided mountain hike in the Picos. It began with an awesome cable car lift that rose 2000 feet up into the mountains – this was not for the feint hearted judging by some of the frightened faces around me! But once we reached the top the views that surrounded us were awe inspiring. The terrain was almost moonlike in it’s appearance, yet again Cantabria was surprising me with her delights. After our mountain hike and once we reached terra firma, we came across a local Spanish fiesta in the town of Potes. Although at this stage there was a few weary souls, it was brilliant to experience the fiesta of a small town. A convoy of colourful locally made floats full of people passed by all singing and dancing with smiles a plenty. It was a great pick-me-up for us all after our action packed itinerary.
The last image of our FAM trip on our final early morning departure from our hotel in Santander was a beautiful sunrise over Santander Bay, an image which has stayed with me and reminds me of the wonder and surprise that the province of Cantabria holds. I can’t wait to go back.
Myself and my brother have setup a small business in advance of this summer’s European Championship in Poland and Ukraine. We have designed our own t-shirts in support of the boys in green. T-shirts can be viewed and purchased by going to www.euro2012tshirts.com. Find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/euro2012tshirts and follow us on twitter @euro2012tshirts. There’ll be a post to follow after the tournament. If Ireland win that post may take a while 🙂 one can only dream…