The beloved Laois tradition that is the Clonaslee Walk on St Stephen's Day could hit the €1 million mark for Laois Hospice this year.
The walk is in its 27th year.
“It is still going strong and still raising money for Laois Hospice. We hope to reach the million this year collected over the 27 years,” said Sheila Bourke, co-ordinator.
There are two walks up the Slieve Bloom mountains, one at 12 noon is 10 miles, the other a family friendly route at 1pm around Brittas Lake is three miles, both based from the community centre.
“Last year we had close on 1,000 people, and about 60% did the long walk, donating €33,000. It's a tradition for people now. We say it starts at 12 but people get here and don't want to wait, they know to follow the signs,” she said.
It began when 14 locals decided to walk to the booster station on the Ridge of Capard on Stephen's Day.
“They collected around the village and raised £216. It continued small and then about eight years in a lady living along the route started making soup for them. Now we have a big soup station, sponsored by Glanbia Avonmore, and water stations on both routes,” Sheila said.
Civil Defence now attend and the committee are working since October on necessary paperwork, insurance and licence, with strong support from local sponsors.
Some hardy athletes run the 10 mile route she said.
“They head off in their shorts and come back red in the face with barely time for refreshments. They just want to better their time each year. We have ensured that this year the 10 mile is exactly that, it was a bit short last year,” she said.
Back in the community hall, the refreshments are legendary.
“We get our sandwiches and rolls sponsored and lots of people make Christmas cakes. it becomes a real family get together,” she said.
It is still all for Laois Hospice.
“We do it in memory of founder Donal Sweeney and others who died since. Everyone is affected by cancer. Laois Hospice palliative nurses give great comfort to patients and relief to their families in the final weeks of life,” she said.
Sponsor cards are available from Sheila at 087 6339540, or turn up on the day, donate if wished. Wear appropriate clothing and keep dogs on a lead.