On Saturday, June 14th, 2014, Father’s Day Eve, men and boys from the entire island of Ireland will assemble at the foot of the Hill Of Uisneach, regarded by many as the geographical centre of Ireland. Together, elders and boys, will walk in the spirit of care, solidarity and brotherhood for the wellbeing of all the males of all parts of Ireland. This will be a celebration of maleness, one that is thoroughly inclusive and non-hierarchical. With no flags, no fliers, no selling, no preaching, just togetherness as we walk the small, gentle climb to the very centre of Ireland. This is an historic occasion, one that is unique in the culture of health and wellbeing of men and boys. We are free to walk with personal intentions, to acknowledge the lives lived by those men and boys known to us who have passed, to walk on behalf of those men and boys among us who are unable to do so, to walk for the betterment of our very selves.
How do I get to the Hill of Uisneach?
The Hill Of Uisneach is on the R390 between Mullingar and Athlone. Equidistant between Killare Crossroads and the small village of Loughnavallley, the entrance to the hill is at a lay by with a picnic table. You will see a small wicker hut also at this place and there is a brown and white sign identifying the place as the Hill of UIsneach. The hill is approximately 10mls/17kms from Mullingar If travelling from the Mullingar direction the lay by will be on your right and on your left if coming from the Athlone direction. Put “Rathnew, Westmeath, Ireland” into www.maps.google.com and you will see map and satellite imagery of the location. Google has misspelled Uisneach as Usnagh and you will see the Hill Of Usnagh above and to the left of Rathnew. Click the “Directions” tab to get directions from your location. Seek to car pool to reduce fuel and environmental costs No public transport runs on the R390 road and if using bus or train, seek Mullingar as your destination. From the station there, take a taxi to the Hill Of Uisneach. For bus information to Mullingar, go to www.buseireann.ieand for rail transport, go to www.irishrail.ie
GPS Coordinates: 53.490°N 7.562°W
What facilities are there?
The Hill of Uisneach Inn is at the Killare Crossroads approximately ½ ml/1 km from the hill entrance. The organiser of Men Of Ireland will endeavour to ask the owner to open this remote hostelry for refreshments before (11am-12pm) and after the walk (3.30-5pm). if you would like to book a meal/snack at the Inn directly, call proprieter Tom Flanaghan at (044) 935 6215 or 087 737 1365. At the hill and on the hill, toilet facilities are the great outdoors.
What should I bring?
Clothing and footwear suitable for the weather and terrain. If there is sun, bring sun block as one can colour or burn easily on the hill. Bring some water and healthy snack food to share. If you have a song or musical instrument or both, please pack them too.
The walk up the hill is very gentle and will take a large group 20-30 minutes to reach the trigonometry post. We will be walking to other significant points on the hill afterwards across farmland. A rough gravel road leads 2/3 of the way up. Wheelchair users and others may drive to the end of this road, rather than walk. The weather and ground conditions will impact whether a wheelchair with assistance can continue onwards to the trigonometry post, however the incline is over short grass.
Who organises Men Of Ireland?
John Cantwell, facilitator of Fir Le Chéile:Men Together, a grassroots men’s group in Dublin is the principal organiser in conjunction with David Clarke, the farmer owning the land of the Hill Of Uisneach. John sits on the Planning Group for Men’s Health Week. You can contact John by telephone: 01-670 4905/087 2414 963 or by e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. He has a longstanding dedication to the mind, body, spirit health and wellbeing of men and boys. Let him know of your plan to be part of the Men Of Ireland event.
(all photography in the website courtesy of Daragh Mc Donagh)