THE LONG TREK: The sisters on the final day, preparing to walk into Castletowne
THE LONG TREK: The sisters on the final day, preparing to walk into Castletowne Contributed

Sisters do 'the walk' for charity

A DESIRE to trace a significant event from her family history saw Ipswich librarian Jennifer Rook traipse across Ireland, while raising funds for the Cancer Council of Queensland.

Mrs Rooks was asked if she would 'Walk the Walk' by O'Sullivan chieftain Michael O'Sullivan during a visit in 2014.

"We are descended from the O'Sullivan clan, so this is a big event in our family history, in 1602 Clan Prince Donal O'Sullivan, with 1,000 soldiers family and clan members fled Castletowne to Leitrim, over 500 kilometres away, and a promise of sanctuary,” Mrs Rooks said.

"Over the centuries, this became known as 'Walking the Walk', and I decided to have a go, despite everyone saying I would never be able to finish.”

With her Mackay-based sister Sue McGann deciding to join her, Mrs Rooks said the two then set about raising funds for the Cancer Council.

"Our goal was $5,000, we have lost a brother and brothers-in-law to different cancers, so we decided to support the Cancer Council of Queensland.”

The sisters at Mount Mary on their hi ke.
The sisters at Mount Mary on their hi ke. Contributed

Training for the walk 'as best we could', Mrs Rooks also began planning the route, discovering that few businesses took credit cards.

"There is virtually no EFTPOS, so we were carrying cash to pay for everything, but we never felt at risk.”

Despite never having walked more than two kilometres in her life, Mrs Rooks said the walk went without a hitch, although she was glad they did the walk in reverse.

"We finished the walk in Castletowne, where they left from, which was good, because the last day was probably the toughest.

"If we did that as Day One, there probably would not have been a Day Two.”

The walk took them to the 'famine graveyard' where their ancestor was buried after being sent to a nearby 'work house'.

Mrs Rooks said the secret was 'a good night's sleep, a good feed and a good pair of shoes'.

"We walked 547 kilometres, and I am still wearing my original boots.”

With no maps of the route available the sisters met a local map maker, who created maps for the rest of their journey.

They also met a distant relative who offered a local illegal brew, 'like rocket fuel, one sip was enough'.

With a target of $5,000, the sisters handed over $11,247.



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