Ms. Mary Doyle
The Glens of Antrim Rambling Club had its beginning with a group of walking enthusiasts in Cushendall in 1980, a time when walking for leisure was not in fashion. Bobby McMullan, a Cushendall resident, in his professional capacity as Health Promotion Manager with the Northern Health and Social Services Board had a special interest in promoting exercise. Having taken part in the Bannsider’s Causeway Coast 20 mile walk, on a number of occasions with colleague Jim Murray, he saw this as a means of giving the not so young an opportunity to get and keep fit. David Munnis, a founder member of the Bannside Club agreed to address an invited group of prospective walkers in the Cushendall Sailing and Boating Club on issues affecting formalised rambling and on how to affiliate to the Association as it was called in those days. Bobby together with Pat Clerkin, Jeannie Walsh, Ann McAlister, Ann O’Hara, Jim Murray and Molly Kernohan and a few others, wanted to get more out of the beautiful countryside they lived in and enjoy the challenges of the surrounding hills. In recognition of his work for the club Bobby McMullan has been made an Honorary Life Member.
Their first task, as with any organisation, was to formalise it by giving it a name and electing a committee. As they were situated in the midst of the glens, it was a natural choice to call our club “The Glens of Antrim Rambling Club“. Our logo , quite appropriately is an outline of Lurig, viewed from the coast road out of Cushendall. Much work had to be done in negotiating with local farmers in the Glens to allow access to their land.
Our Chairperson for the first three years was Pat Clerkin, followed by Molly Kernohan in 1983, then Mary Doyle from 1984 to 1994. In 1994 Alan Turner was elected Chairperson and he held office until 1997 Alan was followed by Liam Murphy for the next three years. And in 2000, Mary Doyle was again elected Chairperson and has held that post and guided the club confidently ever since. Our subscriptions are nominal, enough to cover the club’s expenses, and are collected by Patrick Powell who has been our worthy Treasurer for the last 15 years. Our membership currently stands at around 44.
Over the years, our club was known for organising challenge walks. The Horseshoe Challenge Walk which starts and finishes in Cushendall and covers a distance of 15 miles (25Km) and rises to a height of 1800ft (578M) the Moyle Way Walk from Glenariff to Ballycastle over Knocklade which is 20 Miles (37Km) rises to 1700ft. (514M). These walks which were enjoyed by many took a lot of man and woman power to organise and run.
The bread and butter of the club is the weekly walk, usually on a Sunday. A long walk starting at 11-00am and a shorter walk starting at 2-00pm on alternate Sundays. We produce a Walks Programme every six months and circulate it to our members. This programme tells you where the walk takes place, names the meeting place, who is leading the walk, and his or her phone number in case you need any advice on the walk. All these walks will have been researched and led by different club members . Most of our walks are in the Antrim hills area but our Chairperson Mary Doyle arranges walking weekends for our members, during the bank holidays, in the Mournes, the Sperrins or in Donegal or Fermanagh . We insure all our club members know and respect the “Code of Behaviour for Rambling Clubs” by having it printed on the reverse of our Walks Programmes.
The club is fully insured.
On the social side, just before Christmas we have our “Mince Pie Walk“, a short walk in the Cushendall area ending up in the Boat House for our hot mince pies and a cup of tea followed by singing some carols, usually accompanied by Brian Duffin on his guitar. Every year in the Spring or early Summer, we have a B.B.Q. at the Cushendall Boat House. In November we hold our annual Dinner Dance in the Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough, open to members and their guests. In 2005 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our founding. At the dance that year we were honoured by the presence of Bobby McMullan and some of our other founder members and their spouses. At these dances, Sheila Powell leads us in her famous Circle Dances and James McKeown leads us in some Set Dances before the main dancing of the evening, for those who have any energy left.
A number of our members arrange, amongst themselves, to have walking holidays abroad. Switzerland, Austria and Poland were their destinations in recent years.
Our club is affiliated to the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs and we are listed on the Federation web site.