Thursday, 9 November 2023
The third official Donegal Camino, has made its largest donation yet, €82,155 to Cancer Care West Support Services in Donegal. This brings to €157,150 the funds raised by the Peggy Stringer inspired and exclusive 7 day walking festival, the Donegal Camino.
The Donegal Camino took place from the 3rd to the 9th of September last and 519 people walked the highways and bi-ways of the stunning landscape of Donegal over the 7 days. An average of 75 people walked per day and each with their own personal Donegal Camino agenda combining individual stories, cancer experiences within themselves, family or friends, while others simply sought space from the cut and thrust of everyday life to walk amidst the stunning scenery of Donegal. Each walker combined their experience with the objective of generating much needed funds for Cancer Care West Donegal.
Firming its position of opening the month of September, the Donegal Camino set off on what is now becoming a most popular first Sunday in September which is now recognised as “Camino Sunday”. Walkers from as far away as North America, New Zealand, France, the UK and Scotland joined walkers from all over Ireland, Donegal and Northern Ireland in what was a fantastic week of blue skies and blazing sunshine which ensured that the beautify of Donegal literally glistened. Considered an experience of people, the Donegal Camino has a unique atmosphere which combines camaraderie and fun with world class walking, hiking and Donegal hospitality.
The guides led by award winning John Mc Groary of John’s Walking Ireland safely guided the group over contrasting landscapes while encouraging everyone to get to know each other, share stories, host impromptu singsongs or poetry recitations thus ensuring another warm, embracing and welcoming atmosphere on Donegal Camino 2023. While growing as a 7 day walking festival this unique Camino continues to maintain an intimate atmosphere where friends reconnect annually and new friends are made.
“It’s a cliché to say I’m blown away, but literally I am,” says founder and Donegal Camino visionary, Peggy Stringer, who hails from Carndonagh, Inishowen while now residing in Dublin. “2023 saw huge growth on every level of the Donegal Camino, from the numbers who walked, to the people who got involved and volunteered and to those who donated and fundraised. €82,155 is a phenomenal amount of money to raise for Cancer Care West this year, as we’re still a very young event on Donegal’s Tourism Calendar. We’re all so very proud of our efforts and so grateful to everyone who joined and supported us.”
From Malin Head on the opening Camino Sunday, the Donegal Camino weaved its away across to the breathtaking Knockalla Hills, followed by a gorgeous day on the coastal loop of Horn Head on the Wild Atlantic Way. Donegal’s Mickey Joe Harte, serenaded walkers on Horn Head with multiple sing songs enroute and many walkers joined Noel Cunningham in a few dances as the sun shone down on everyone.
The highlight of the 2023 Donegal Camino was certainly the sunrise climb of Errigal when 72 walkers stepped up at 4.30am to climb in single file under as the star light Donegal sky. An emotional climb of Errigal was made even more poignant with the haunting fiddle playing of the talented composer Matt Mc Granahan who climbed with the group and played on the summit where walkers hugged and shed their personal load along with many personal tears.
The waves of Tory were certainly lively as walkers took to the dancefloor of Club Toraigh for what was a rousing night of set dancing, music, song and craic which was followed by a day of sightseeing on the unique Gaeltacht island. The final two days of the 2023 Donegal Camino took in the magic of the Assaranka Waterfall and Granny Glen before the grand finale on Europe’s highest sea cliffs, Sliabh Liag.
“Donegal has it all in terms of scenery, walks, food, hospitality and our unique personality and welcome,” says Deirdre McGlone former owner of Harvey’s Point. “So vast is what Donegal has to offer, that each year thus far, the Donegal Camino has taken walkers on new and exciting walks and hikes along with our jewel of Sliabh Liag. This is satisfying our aim of attracting walkers from all over the world to experience our world class Donegal walking product which Lonely Planet recently announced as Top 10 in the world. This brings much pride to us all along with the magnanimous fundraising.”
Cancer Care West Board Member Noel Cunningham says “The generosity of the people and businesses of Donegal knows no bounds and the Donegal Camino walkers worked so hard this year to support us in making such a large and generous donation to a much needed service in Donegal, Cancer Care West. From the bottom of our hearts we thank everyone who supported us in making this happen.”
The Donegal Camino Committee extends its deepest appreciation to its partners Go Visit Donegal, Donegal County Council, Gallaghers Bakehouse, 3D Personnel, Sendmode, Harvey’s Point, Simple Simon’s - Donegal Town, Donegal Airport and all the businesses and people who supported, donated, fundraised, volunteered and of course walked the 2023 Donegal Camino.
In addition they express their deepest appreciation to John Mc Groary of the award winning John’s Walking Ireland and his team of professional guides, Joe Coyle, Denis Sheridan and Michael Devaney for ensuring a first class and safe 7 days on the Donegal Camino. In addition they thank volunteer and Donegal based photographer Colm Canny and the back up car drivers, Danny Kelly, Sean Doherty from Scotland and Carl Gysling along with Scottish Musician Seamus O Sullivan who led walkers every day with a rousing rendition of the Donegal Camino Anthem, “This is my Homeland”. A word of thanks to videographer Brendan Bradas O’Donnell for capturing all of the special moments of Donegal Camino 2023.
Richard Flaherty, CEO of Cancer Care West, said “The Donegal Camino is now our biggest fundraiser supporting our Donegal services. We thank everyone for the fantastic success of the event this year. We know how difficult fundraising is currently and the amount of effort & time that is required to reach this figure and we are extremely grateful for all your individual contributions. We are very proud of our centre in Donegal and we have important plans to increase the range of services provided in the centre in 2024 to meet the ever-increasing demands. These funds are crucial to allow us to do all of this.
The Donegal Camino Committee includes founder Peggy Stringer, Deirdre McGlone, former owner of Harvey’s Point, Cancer Care West Board Member and Harvey’s Point Ambassador, Noel Cunningham, Noreen D’Arcy of D’Arcy Marketing & PR who has strong Donegal Family connections and Donegal Businessman, John Mc Namara of Sendmode.
The Donegal Camino will soon announce details and dates of the 2024 Donegal Camino. Stay Tuned to www.donegalcamino.ie and social media channels @donegalcamino for more details.