David’s Art O’Neill Challenge for Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue

by Padraig Conlon

For the past few decades people have traditionally walked the route originally taken by Art O Neill, his brother Henry and Red Hugh O Donnell when they escaped from Dublin Castle on 6th January 1592.

In 2009 it was turned into an official event in order to raise funds for Stuart Mangan, a talented young rugby player who was paralysed from the neck down during a rugby game.

From there it developed into an organised 55km walk and ultra race with competitors leaving Dublin Castle at midnight and finishing in the Glenmalure Valley the following day.

One man taking part in this years challenge, which takes place this Friday (11th), is David Byrne who will be running to raise much needed funds for Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue team.

David has set up a GoFundMe to help them in their voluntary work to rescue lost, stranded and injured walkers.

David told Dublin Gazette what made him sign up for this awesome challenge!

‘I had hiked from Glendalough to Glenmalure one Saturday morning in January about 12 or 13 years ago,” he said.

“I was sitting in the Glenmalure Lodge around lunchtime having the first of a few pints after the walk and a guy came in covered in muck with steam streaming off his head.

“I had no clue who he was or what he was doing so I asked him.

“He sat beside the fire and he started pulling off boots and socks, he was in a right state.

“He said he had walked from Dublin as part of the Art O Neill challenge.

“He ordered 3 pints of Guinness in quick succession and literally inhaled them.

“I asked my uncle Michael who was in the Irish Army and knew Wicklow like the back of his hand and he told me the story of Art’s escape and how he died when he lay down in the snow to sleep.

“I applied several times but never got a place.

“My uncle died several years ago but when I go hiking in Wicklow I always think of him.

“He made the whole story sound so romantic in a very Irish kind of way.

“I think we all love a bit of hardship and I want to see how far I can push myself physically and then have a big feed of Guinness in Glenmalure.

“My wife Jaime had our first baby in 2017 so while people think I’m brave or whatever doing this, it’s nothing in comparison to giving birth.

“So I’ll be thinking of her and my daughter Molly when the going gets very very tough.

“I’ve chosen the Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team as my chosen charity as they are totally voluntary, on call 24/7 to help walkers and they are trying to build their own base in Wicklow.’

Related Articles