O'Sullivan Beare's march is re-enacted

 

The first leg of a 250 mile re-enactment of the historic march of members of the O'Sullivan Beare clan from west Cork to a safe haven in Leitrim and Cavan in 1603 takes place today.

A group of thirty, including O' Sullivan Beare descendants from the US, will set out this morning from the ruins of Dunboy Castle, Castletownbere.

This was the seat of the chieftain Donal Cam O'Sullivan, destroyed after the defeat of the Irish and Spanish forces at Kinsale in 1602. Author Deirdre Purcell is launching the march at 9 a.m. this morning. The group will meet up with others from Tuosist and Kenmare in the oak woods near Glengarriff in the evening to commemorate the gathering of the clan from the peninsula before setting off for Leitrim on their winter march exactly four hundred years ago.

Over the course of 15 days, the route will take them through Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Offaly, Galway, Roscommon and Sligo.

Averaging 15 miles per day, (the longest leg is 30, the shortest just 6.5 miles) it is expected that many will join the walk for local legs.

Among the walkers setting out for the whole of the route is Mr Dara O' Sullivan (21), "the first O' Sullivan in 400 years" to walk the historic route, according to the co-ordinator of the project, Mr Jim O' Sullivan.

The chieftain of the O'Sullivan clan, Mr Michael O'Sullivan, will also join the march.

Mr Max Fell (17), will travel on horseback.

The walkers will carry two wooden staffs, and on these brass rings from each town and village on the route will be placed.

The clan staffs of each area will also be collected, Mr O'Sullivan said. Of the 1,000 people who originally set out only 35, among them only one woman, arrived at their destination.

The route is to be linked with walking and cycling routes from Northern Ireland and will form part of the European Greenways network, the Heritage Council has recommended.

In the summer a series of festivals and events supported by national tourism, heritage and cultural as well as community organisations are being organised.

The Beara-Breifne walking route will be fully completed by 2004, it is expected.