Walking Festival to explore ‘Bright and Beautiful’ life of CF Alexander
05 September 2018
The village of Killeter in County Tyrone will celebrate the 200thanniversary of the birth of its most famous resident when it hosts a walk in her honour at the 2018 Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival.
Cecil Frances Alexander was a poet and hymn writer of world renowned, penning classics such as ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ and the Christmas Carol ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.
Born in Dublin in 1818, she lived in Killeter from 1850 until 1855 after she married the Anglican clergyman William Alexander who was the curate in St Bestius Church in the town and would go on to become the Primate of Ireland.
‘The Bright and Beautiful Walk’ at the festival on Saturday September 22nd is a 4km stroll around the four churches in the town who have come together to organise a number of events this year to mark the bicentenary of her birth.
“The walk will take in four gardens, one in each church in the area,” explained Walking Guide Gordon Speer. “The gardens are themed by Mrs Alexander’s four most famous hymns: ‘All Things Bright and beautiful’, ‘There is a Green Hill Far Away’, ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and ‘Jesus Calls us o’er the Tumult’.
“The event will include historical sites dating back to the 12th century including Magherakeel Graveyard; St. Cairealls Church and school site and St. Patrick’s Well.
“Participants will hear the story of her life as we walk between the four gardens and take in the fantastic landscape which offers views over a wide area including the hills of Donegal.”
In October a special festival will be held to celebrate Mrs Alexander’s life and Gordon hopes the walk will help raise the profile of her story and help nurture the area as a visitor destination.
“We are keen to develop the important legacy left behind by Mrs Alexander,” he explained.
“We believe it has the potential to become a unique visitor attraction where people can learn more about her life just as people travel to Sligo to hear the story of William Butler Yeats.”
The Bright and Beautiful Walk will depart from Killeter Church Hall towards Killeter Heritage Centre at 1pm on Saturday September 22nd and walkers are asked to arrive no later than 12.30pm for registration.
The walk is one of a number of new routes at the Festival that will explore the nature and history of the area.
The Beyond Borders walk will leave Killeter at 9am and will explore the broader hinterland of the border Tyrone shares with counties Donegal and Fermanagh.
At 10am the ‘Local and Neolithic Walk’, will take in a number of interesting sites around the townland from the period when Ireland was settled by its first agrarian inhabitants.
The Killeter section of the festival will coincide with the Killeter Fair in the village on Saturday and walkers can sample a wide variety of entertainment and activities including music, turf cutting, music and a vintage parade.
On Sunday the action moves to the Sperrins and the picturesque village of Plumbridge where three more walks will leave from Watt’s Bar on the town’s Main Street.
The ‘Jewel in the Crown of the IAT’ at 9am is a challenging route that will explore Sawel Mountain – a peak that is visible from counties as far flung as Down and is the highest mountain along the route of the International Appalachian Trail.
At 10am the Craignamaddy Nature Walk is a 10k hike that explores the ridge that rises between the Glenelly and Owenkillew Valleys and will be led by an expert in Flora and Fauna who will focus on the areas’ unique habitat.
Finally the family friendly Vinegar Hill Charity Walk in aid of Rural Support sets off from Watts Bar at 1pm and will be guided by local walkers and walking enthusiasts who will provide some appetising home grown hospitality along the way.
Registration for the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival is open now at http://www.sperrinskilleterwalking.com/ where full details of each walk are available