Sperrin Hikers salute the courage of the Loughgall Martyrs
Published: 9 May, 2012
Paul and Jay (centre) with a group of hikers who took part in Saturday's challenge.
A troupe of 150 hikers braved the elements on Saturday to climb the Sperrin Mountains in a 'Walk of Freedom' to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Loughgall Martyrs.
The hike was organised by the Tyrone SF Commemoration committee and was part of a programme of events to commemorate the lives of the 9 men killed by the SAS on 8th May 1987.
The route, which straddled the Tyrone/Derry border, crossed 9 mountains, including Sawel and Mullaghclogha which are the highest points in Counties Derry and Tyrone.
One of the organisers was Strabane Cllr Jay Mc Cauley.
According to Jay, 'From early morning, enthusiastic walkers descended on the rural hamlet of Aughabrack for registration and transport to the starting point near the village of Sperrin, located deep in the mountain range.
'We were delighted with the number of people who turned out to take part. Not only had we large numbers from Tyrone, but comrades joined us from Fermanagh, Donegal, Derry, South Armagh, Monaghan and from as far afield as Cork and Dublin.
'The walkers consisted of young, old, experienced and inexperienced but everyone did it at their own pace and everyone was united in a strong sense of camaraderie and friendship. Although we were physically challenged, when we seen the portrait of each volunteer at the summit, it put our own discomfort into perspective and inspired us to march on.
Another participant was the chairperson of Sinn Féin in East Tyrone Paul Kelly,
According to Paul 'The views from the top of the Sperrins are absolutely breathtaking and given that it was a fine day and high altitude, we could see as far as East Tyrone where many of the volunteers hailed from and we could clearly see the glow of Lough Neagh and North Armagh where the 9 men lost their lives on that fateful evening in 1987.
'All of the men who died at Loughgall had a deep appreciation of our beautiful country and its people. As such, this was a very fitting way to combine a health and fitness challenge with an event to commemorate the sacrifice of the Loughgall Martyrs on the 25th anniversary of their deaths'.