Saturday 18th June 2011 will celebrate 20 years since the establishment of the Great Southern Trail Action Group – and the recent extension which now enables the Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale section of the old Limerick-Tralee railway to be used for cycling and walking. This 22 mile route is the longest developed rail-trail in Ireland, and it is appropriate that the route should be traversed in its entirety around the longest day of the year.

Participants may join in for a short walk, a medium stretch or the entire route, as they prefer. For those considering the shorter lengths, Bus Éireann coaches ( stop hourly at six locations which are close to the GST. Those who intend to walk the full 22 miles should register at 8.45 a.m. in Rathkeale. The registration fee will include lunch/evening meal vouchers, as well as a special B&B rate for those wishing to stay overnight in Abbeyfeale. A certificate will be provided to all who walk the entire route as a reward for their endurance. Intention to register should be notified to prior to 18th June to assist in the planning and logistics. The day long event will be spread over eleven hours to allow for rest periods.

The provisional walking schedule is as follows:

9:00 a.m. depart Rathkeale (0 miles)
11:00 a.m. arrive Ardagh (5 miles)
11:30 a.m. depart Ardagh after refreshment stop
12:30 p.m. arrive Newcastle West (8 miles)
2:00 p.m. depart Newcastle West after break for lunch
4:00 p.m. arrive Barnagh (14 miles)
4:30 p.m. depart Barnagh after visit to 1880 railway tunnel
5:30 p.m. arrive Templeglantine (17 miles)
6:00 p.m. depart Templeglantine after refreshment stop
8:00 p.m. arrive Abbeyfeale (22 miles)

It is hoped to provide an evening meal or barbeque at Abbeyfeale. Cyclists should depart Rathkeale at 5 p.m. (or earlier if they wish to visit some off-trail locations).

All walkers arriving in Abbeyfeale will be provided with return transport to their starting point on Saturday night or on Sunday should they wish to stay overnight in Abbeyfeale. Cyclists should make their own arrangements for returning to their starting point.

Beidh fáilte romhat ar an lá.

Ralph Rawlinson