The Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail gathered on August 31, 2013 at Brian Boru, an Irish Pub in Portland, Maine at 9:00 am to welcome Northern Ireland’s Ulster Way as its newest member and celebrate the completion of the IAT across the emerald isle, from Slieve League in the Republic to the ferry terminal at Larne.
At precisely the same hour, 2:00 pm GMT, Magne Haugseng and Paul Wylezol made it official at a special ceremony during the Bluegrass Music Festival at the Ulster American Folk Museum in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Participants included Northern Ireland Environment Minister, Mark H. Durcan, Irish Republic Member of Parliament, Joe McHugh, and Vice Chair Sorcha McAnespy of Omagh District Council. IAT representatives included IAT Europe Vice Chair and event organizer, Magne Haugseng, IAT Chairperson, Paul Wylezol, and IAT Ireland Coordinator for Donegal, Inga Bock. Also at hand was AT/IAT long distance hiker Cotton Joe Norman who on September 1 will begin his thru-hike of the IAT Ireland and Scotland.
Senator George Mitchell congratulated the people of Northern Ireland in a letter that was read in Omagh, emphasizing especially that simple activities like walking have a way of bringing people together no matter their background or nationality. “This is a great day for walking in Ireland and Northern Ireland.” “I congratulate the International Appalachian Trail on its many accomplishments linking the many countries that have remnants of the Appalachian Mountains.” ~Senator George Mitchell
Congressman Joseph Brennan, who announced the creation of the IAT at a news conference on Earth Day, April 22, 1993, also added words of congratulations for this remarkable effort to bring people together in a common project that rings the North Atlantic along the ancient Appalachian Mountains. “The IAT is an outstanding example of citizens of North America and Europe working together to create a walking pathway that celebrates the old Appalachian Mountains and the many cultures linked together by those mountains.”. ~Congressman Joseph Brennan
The assembled group gave a special thanks to the crew at Brian Boru, Dan Steele, Whitney Reynolds and Chris Garvey who opened their pub at an early hour in order that the Maine Chapter could hold a simultaneous celebration.
Northern Ireland becomes the 20th chapter to join the IAT. They will be followed by Portugal in September. A group is coming together in Morocco, and we look forward to the day when the IAT will have its official end on east side of the North Atlantic in the town of Taroudant, Morocco.