The normally quiet south Sligo county roads between Gurteen and Keash last Saturday (23 June) echoed to the Ralph McTell classic ballad, 'From Clare To Here' as an army of family, friends and neighbours completed the final leg of a 130-mile charity walk from Spancill Hill, Co Clare to Keash, the home of the late Tom Ward, a fundraiser champion. See SligoToday.ie 13/6/12
The walkers had made the trek to honour Tom, who died last month while in training for this walk, another gruelling effort to raise much-needed funds for Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin. His planned one-man walk became a community goal, duly completed.
Over the past number of years Tom had taken part in many charity fundraisers, a cycle from Dundalk to Keash for the National council of the Blind, a volunteer at Twin Fest Ireland which has raised funds for the Meningitis Trust Ireland in Memory of his Gran Niece Katie Garvey and most recently a 90 mile walk from Maams Cross Co.Galway in aid of Our Lady’s Hospital for sick children Crumlin.
Tom choose this charity as his grand nephew Keelan underwent major surgery in at the Dublin hospital in January last year.
Following a brief stop over in the village of Gurteen the 'army' of over 150 people walked on to Keash to be joined by yet more from Culfadda. In Knockbrack, where Tom was laid to rest, the walkers were met by local Parish Priest Fr Finan who offered his congratulations to those taking part in the memorable event.
Fr Finan prayed and thanked God for the safe return of the walkers and noted that the large number of those taking part showed that community spirit was alive and well. He asked that such community spirit shown should be a constant reminder of Tom.
The popular priest also said that it was hard for himself to accept Tom's passing and praised Tom's daughters, Louise, Rebecca and Rachel for their strength and courage shown during a very difficult time. A minutes silence was held and then 'From Clare To Here' was played to the assembled crowd.
As the rain came down, the walk continued under Garda escort to their goal, The Fox's Den, owned by the Ward family where a large bonfire signalled the homecoming. A large cheering welcoming crowd of wellwishers applauded the walkers on their final steps of the epic walk. At the end of the marathon walk in memory of Tom Ward are Helen, Rebecca Ward, Cliona Mc Donald, Aiden Ward - Co-ordinator, Louise Ward, Patrick Ryan, Nathan Clancy, Aiden Kielt, Nora Ward and Patrick Ward at the Bonfire at the Fox's Den Keash. Photo: Peter McParland
The total raised from this walk is said to be close to €9,000 with a final figure due in the coming week. The Ward family express their sincere thanks to all those who have assisted in so many ways since Tom’s untimely passing and to those who took part in completing Toms Charity walk.
Perhaps the most fitting comment came from one local who said, "If there is a proud man today, Tom Ward would be his name." Tom Ward
1961 - 2012