Walking to Maynooth
When I was accepted into the Sacred Journeys conference in Maynooth, Ireland, I thought I might walk there from Dublin. My paper is on walking pilgrimages, so it seemed appropriate. Here I am, then, on the Royal Canal towpath, resting and enjoying the breeze. Maybe I’ll walk away my jet lag.
I slept in a little, still jet lagged, and left later than I had planned. I had a little trouble finding the way to the trail, which runs along the old towpath, too. So I can’t say if I’m past the halfway point or not. It doesn’t matter; one foot after another, and I’ll get there. Eventually.
This isn’t nonfunctional walking, since I have a goal, but in a way it is. The railway line is on the other side of the canal, and periodically a passing train reminds me that there are saner ways to get where I’m going. But then I wouldn’t get to know anything about the space I’m travelling through.
According to the visual and olfactory evidence, the Bin the Poo campaign is not working, despite the hefty fines involved (€150).
I stopped to chat with a cyclist this morning, and later I walked with two retired fellows for an hour or two. They filled me in on the weather here (today’s humidity is unusual) and the popularity of Gaelic football (more popular than soccer). They walk the path regularly. It’s one of their hobbies, I suppose.
Too bad there’s no pub nearby, because it’s lunchtime and I have no food (a terrible oversight). I might not find one until I get to Maynooth. That will make this walk difficult, even unpleasant. Translation: I’m hungry.
The sun is coming out. It’s turning into a lovely day.
Later: I found a pub in Leixlip, happily. Food and cold drink are coming my way. Still a way to go, and a wiser man would swallow his pride and take the train.
Later: About two kilometres back an old fellow told me that it was three more miles to Maynooth. I would guess I have another three kilometres to go. My feet are tired and blistered, but I expected that. I hope it’s not too far from the town centre to the university, where I’m staying.
Later: I made it. Now to find the campus. That can’t be too hard.
What strikes me about today’s walk? Wild poppies. The herons I surprised–two of them. The odd skunk smell along the path occasionally (are there skunks in Ireland?) Reminders of home: magpies, mallards, fireweed. The quiet water in the canal: lily pads and other water plants, a pair of swans with their babies. The friendly, grinning pit bull who squeezed through my legs as his human companion laughed. I’m sure I could come up with more. It was a grand day, as they say here.