Day 22: 17.5km Along The Glorious Shannon River

There’s something about being beside the water that soothes my soul. One hour into walking along the Shannon River and my heart was beating a steady rhythm – thu-thump-thu-thump.

I was alone on the trail, far from the roads and just so perfectly content.

The morning started with a tad of anxiety. I woke up with a clogged nose and left ear, headache already building behind my eyes, and my body felt heavy. Flu season has begun and I’m none too pleased, but willing to walk through it. I went though my morning routine and hoisted my pack up, ready to head out.

Alas, my pack had other plans for me.

It seems that at some point in the night my water bag sprung a leak and proceeded to soak absolutely everything in my bag. Sigh. So I decided to stay indoors for the night and Mental Health Ireland so generously put me up for the night in a hotel (more on that in a moment).

In an attempt to cheer up before I set out for the day I decided to grab a donut for breakfast. Proceeded to drop said donut. Double sigh. So I headed to Cafe Rose to drown my sorrows in coffee. While there I got to talking to the locals about what I was doing and they proceeded to astound me with their kindness.

One by one they started coming over to my table with donations. €5 euro notes, coins, anything they had to spare. I walked out of the cafe with €40 for MHI, a chicken salad sandwich (I am completely infatuated with Irish white bread), and fighting back tears for all the warm hugs and sincere “thank you”s I received. People are incredible.

So I set off. The sun was shining, blue skies reflecting off the shimmering water and my spirits were high. I sang my way down the trail (RENT soundtrack on repeat) and before I knew it, had reached Meelick Quay – the perfect spot to soak my absolutely shattered (and seriously gross looking) feet while I waited for a taxi to come and whisk me away to my hotel for the night.

I’m calling the Shearwater Hotel my “Cinderella Moment”. I walk into this place, covered in dirt, sweat and a bit of residual blood from a manic nosebleed, fling open the door to my room and discover – A SUITE. I’m talking, 2 rooms, jacuzzi bathtub, designer chocolates, sparkling water and the whitest, fluffiest robe ever known to mankind.

I had an incredible dinner, soaked in the bath for a good 2 hours and fell asleep in a bed so large, I fell asleep a starfish with none of my limbs touching the edges.

From Ballinasloe I hopped a bus to Galway where I’ll be for the weekend. It’s long been on my list to visit and I’m practically giddy at the thought of wandering around the city.

Now all I need is a ginger haired Irish lad to serenade me in a pub.

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