A RETRIED lecturer at Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College has walked 3,450 km around the entire coastline of Ireland to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society after two of his close friends died from the disease.
Dr Marty Holland finished his walk on the Flaggy Shore in North Clare where he was greeted his family and friends as well as the families of his friends who died from cancer.
Over 153 days, he raised more than €49000 for the ICS and £10,000 for The Cancer Centre in Belfast.
He was motivated to take on the challenge following the passing of two friends, Michael O’Regan from Monaleen and John O’Reilly from Cratloe.
During three months in 2016, Dr Holland tackled the coastlines of Munster and Leinster and last week, completed the task over another two months when he traversed the Ulster and Connacht coastlines.
For accommodation, he couch surfed, “dependent on the support of strangers to offer me a place to sleep – I wasn’t stuck once – the generosity and support given to me was phenomenal.”
Married to Noelle, a teacher in Monaleen NS, and living in Cratloe, Dr Holland said that the entire event was a challenge, and not just the walking.
“Many a day when I set out, I didn’t know where I would be sleeping that night. Thankfully, I met a lot of goodwill from strangers who took it upon themselves to look out for me as I walked and things always worked out.
“In more than five months of walking, I wasn’t stuck once”, he said with a hint of pride.
“I’m delighted I did it. It was a wonderful once in a life time experience.
“I met great people, new friends and have been to wonderful parts of our beautiful country. I certainly don’t have any of those ‘never again’ feelings about the walking.
“It was brilliant and I couldn’t have done it without the wholehearted approval from my wife Noelle. She knew I needed to do something positive after losing my two friends Michael and John to cancer.
“She was behind me from the outset even though it made her life much tougher keeping everything going at home on her own but was able to join me a few times on the walk which was lovely.
“We have a great country for scenery and walking with many standout places, but my only disappointment is that a walk around the coast of Ireland requires so much walking on roads, most of which are not designed for pedestrians and are very dangerous.
“There are so many places where good coastal paths could easily be opened up for everyone’s benefit, with the agreement of landowners.
The challenge, he said “turned out better than I could ever have expected. We have a uniquely welcoming, generous and empathic population in Ireland.
After up to nine hours of walking, Marty said he would spend some time fundraising and was still receiving donations through the links to everydayhero.com and justgiving.com on his Facebook page: CoastForCancer.
Expressing thanks to all who supported him, he said that “at times, I felt as if I was gliding and being kept up by the updraft of goodwill from those whom I met.