Clonmel heroes to trek the Camino for carers

Two Clonmel women are set to trek Camino de Santiago (The French Way) for Family Carers Ireland next month.

Funding the entire adventure themselves, Lisronagh’s Maria Kennedy and Clonmel’s Áine Ryan will walk the final 129 km of the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela on the famous trail in northwestern Spain.

Married to Liam Kennedy with three kids – Sarah, Jack and Yvonne – Maria works at Family Carers Clonmel on Sarsfield Street as an administrator. She has always wanted to walk the Camino, but desired to make the trip “more meaningful by raising money for carers having seen first hand the great work they do”.

Her close friend Áine, who works at Bulmers in Clonmel, will celebrate her 50th birthday as they hike the most social part of the Camino in Spain’s Galicia region.

“I want to make a difference,” Maria tells South Tipp Today.

“I’m inspired by the work of Family Carers Ireland and I want to support them by raising money from walking the Camino with my friend Áine.

“The work that Richie Molloy and the rest of the team here at Family Carers Clonmel do is fantastic, from the Five Steps to Living Well with Dementia project which helps to reintegrate people back into society to helping the elderly use computers and support groups,” Maria highlights.

Family Carers Clonmel manager Richie Molloy with Maria Kennedy and Áine Ryan.

Maria and Áine have “rediscovered their surroundings” while preparing for the Camino. “We have walked from Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir, and in some beautiful woods around Clonmel to help us get ready for the Camino,” Maria smiles.

Áine already has chocolate eggs hidden around the house for her loved ones, as she will be in the heart of the Camino for carers on Easter Sunday.

Family Carers Clonmel currently has 30 part-time home respite workers at their branch, and while they acknowledge the funding received from HSE Section 39, fundraisers are the driving force behind their advocacy.

“The elderly find it difficult to get through to humans on the phone,” branch manager Richie Molloy explains.

“We offer a one to one support service here at Family Carers Clonmel, help with filling out forms and represent our carers at appeal meetings.

“Maria cared for her parents and does great work for carers in the locality,” he continues.

Richie is “very proud” of the local heroes for taking on such an admirable feat.

“It’s fantastic that Maria and Áine are taking on the Camino at their own expense for Family Carers, and I hope they really enjoy the experience,” he adds.

Maria and Áine ’s itinerary (April 11-17):

Day 1: Arrive in Sarria and stay overnight

Day 2: Walk to Portomarin – 22 km

Day 3:Walk to Palas de Rei – 24 km

Day 4: Walk to Arzua – 28km

Day 5: Walk to Rua – 19km

Day 6: Walk to Santiago de Compostela – 20 km

Day 7: Travel to Finisterre and do 16 km walk

Support Maria and Áine here.

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