jackh
17 Oct
  • By Aizhana Danabekova

He walked 2,500km in support of sick children

Jack O’Donohue
65 years old pensioner, Dublin, Ireland

Jack walked 2,500 kms of the Wild Atlantic Way in order to support of the Children’s Medical Research Foundation. The 65 old has five children and seven grandchildren. He counts himself lucky that his children have never had to attend Crumlin Hospital where many seriously ill children and their families are cared by a wonderful team. So he wanted to express his grateful to them and raise money for those who needed it most.

Jack said that he didn’t have any plan during his trip. He just got up in the morning, walked 6-10 hours and when he arrived in a new town, he looked for a place to stay until the next morning. Furthermore he always kept his Facebook page updated and uploaded photos and told about the people that he met.  
“You can learn so much from these encounters that you would never be able to get any other way. I have walked over 2,500 Kms in the past three months, I met amazing people I saw the most beautiful scenery in our country, meanwhile, I became healthier and happier and on the top of that, I raised twenty-thousand euros for saving children’s lives.”

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Tell me about yourself?

I worked in computer field for 40 years. I was a head of ICT (Information Communication Technology) for a multinational Irish company. When I was young I was active in sport, engaged in curling, football and other sports. I was married when I was 20 and my wife was 19. We had five children quickly. When we were 28, we already had 5 children. I spent most of my time working and being with my family. I stopped engaging in sports.  When I was retired, I hadn’t been very active, and then I decided, I can open a bucket list of things to do. And the first thing was to go to the United States with my wife. When I came back I went to Kilimanjaro and that trip ended in tragedy. I was struck by lightning storm and my earing damaged (the guy beside me was killed). I came back from that and decided to go el Camino de Santiago. This is almost 800Km long and starts at St. Jean Pied-De-Port in France and ends in Santiago in the north western region of Spain. Then I headed to the Great Wall of China.  

How did you come up with the idea to make a walk trip?

My wife’s sister and her husband are from California. We usually visit them and they always visit us. So three years ago we went on a road trip driving along the east cost of the Northern Ireland. We drove along the Wild Atlantic Way. And when we were driving, I said myself I would like to walk through this way because when you are driving you miss a lot of beautiful scenes. Then I decided to walk to raise some money for charity that I’ve been doing for a while. I always supported Crumlin Hospital like through donations. I told them I am going to walk and I will raise money for them. The idea was I would fund myself and my walking trip wherever it cost and wherever donation came in, it would go straight to the hospital.

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Did you have a plan to make your route?

I just followed the route of the Wild Atlantic Way. My starting point was Muff (it is a village in County Donegal). There was no plan except to walk the entire route. Each day I got up and didn’t know what distance I would walk. Someday I walked 20km and someday I walked 40km, wherever I ended up I was looking for an accommodation. I had set up a Facebook page before I left. So then people started following (at the end I had 28 followers). Sometimes the people who are following me, they would offer to put me home. It didn’t happen too often, but if I could get an accommodation in that way, I would only need to go breakfast. And most of my time I paid all my own costs.  

How did your family accept your challenge? Did your children try to stop you?

My family was supportive. Well, my children don’t want me to do the couple thing in my bucket list. One of the things is to chase tornado, and the other thing is to dive with sharks.  Generally people are still asking me why I did it. Well, when I see children and their families struggling with a serious illness every day, I feel that I am lucky because my children are healthy. I think when you are lucky in life, you should give something back. And I was lucky I could support Crumlin Hospital.

Three bad things of your journey

There was nothing bad except the weather was bad. I didn’t get an accommodation and I had to put on all my clothes like my scarf, gloves, and all my socks to keep warm. I was feeling freezing and I couldn’t sleep that night. Sometimes it took me so long to find a room during the summer festivals because all hotels were booked. But that happened only a few times, I would say again that I was lucky in finding a place to stay.

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Three the best things of your journey

One the best thing is people and the engagement with people. I love meeting with people. The amazing thing is if you stop people and give them time to talk, they are very open. They tell you the most interesting stories about their life, families and difficulties. The second best thing is beautiful scenery of Ireland, spectacular cliffs and amazing beaches. I would say that Ireland is the most beautiful country. The third thing is walking, the feeling that it gave me. When I walked during the day and I met with different, at the end I could find what it is important in life. And my family is very important for me.   

What is your philosophy of life?

There is no only one philosophy that we should apply. I don’t need lots of things. I am always happy and I am a positive person. One of my philosophies is to be kind with other people because it is easy. It is very easy.

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Find out more:

  • Facebook page of the walk: https://www.facebook.com/2500klms/
  • Donations to children’s hospital: https://www.cmrf.org/event/a-bit-of-a-walk
  • Jack’s Bucket list: http://jblsites.blogspot.ie/
  • Long account of Jack’s walk along the Northern Spain (called Camino Frances): http://jblcamino.blogspot.ie/