Erris parkrun, Co. Mayo, Ireland

There is land in Ireland (and other countries) to the West of it, so it may not remain so, but this is currently the most Westerly parkrun in Ireland and in Europe. It isn’t actually right on the coast, but the wind is pretty unrestricted in blowing into your face as you step out of a car, holding the door carefully to avoid that banging open. The rain, too, is going to go with whatever direction the wind blows it. It rained before the start, stopped for most of the run, and threw it down while walkers were finishing off – by luck more than judgment, I was back in the car by then.

Map showing Erris parkrun route, a clockwise route round a lake, not quite forming a loop
Erris parkrun route

As you can see from the route map, there’s a gap between start and finish. That short walk, up and over a dune, made it even luckier that I had made it back to the car before the rain really started again. Only when my teeth were chattering after a visit to a supermarket on the way back did I realise that the drizzle – probably horizontal, if unshowily so – I had been out in had made me pretty wet in any case. This was also my first run of the colder season in a hat. And I very rarely wear a hat.

Group photo, lots of people looking cold and trying to shelter from the wind just before the parkrun start
Group photo at the start. Wind not pictured, but you get the idea.
Me, pictured next to the permanent sign that marks the start of the parkrun, overlooking the lake which is lapping at the grass
Me, attempting to look as delighted as I would on a sunny day

This being Ireland, I was given a warm welcome. And with it being a small group of people, almost all regulars, I was able to speak to many of the people there, even though we didn’t hang around long at the end.

There are many things worthy of mention about this parkrun. Parking is free, just find a spot next to the route. There are no other facilities at all. The views are great, and you are very exposed to the weather, whatever it may be. It’s Westerly. The people are wonderful – just for being there, but also for the warmth of the greeting that helps a visitor feel a part of the community. One thing immediately obvious as a contrast to England is that although this is in rural Mayo, and accessible down small roads, I didn’t hit a pothole. Not one, honestly. I know! 2022, and roads without potholes? No one will believe it possible in England.

That is also true of the route, which is run along the road around the lake. That road serves a few houses only, but looks brand new in a way I had forgotten is possible. It’s a great surface, and the only car we saw, pulling in just after we set off, turned out to belong to a park runner who started late and still caught many of us up, and so was very careful in picking his way through the runners and walkers.

A single runner - a local taxi driver, I found out later - ahead of me on the road. Tall grass at the side of the road leans against the wind.
The route mostly looks like this.
Long straight road ahead with grass down the middle. The finish is near but can't be seen.
Terrible photo, included because this is under 300m from the finish, but you can’t see it, at all.
Finish is painted on the road, with volunteers sheltering by a car but still managing the finish line perfectly.
Brilliant volunteers shelter behind the car whenever people aren’t finishing.
Permanent sign says "In Memory of Mike and Nellie Togher, parkrun every Saturday morning @ 9.30"
Never far from a reminder of the community
Cows are grazing in the field to the side of the road, while I'm running to the finish, smiling to pretend it's really no effort at all
Me, finishing
Cows graze in the field behind the finish, while a permanent sign marks the spot
The Finish line is easy to spot when you’re near
View of the start point and the coast, from the dune you walk over to head back to the start
View over the dune, back toward the start. I’m constantly behind the man in yellow in these pictures, but actually finished ahead of him, and we found time to chat without me shouting from this far behind
View from the dune, back towards the finish.
View of the finish from above. You can see how the road bends close to the finish
A coastal view of low waves crashing in to a small bay, just a few hundred metres down the road
Weather not great, views magnificent

Given this was autumn, I can only wonder at how ragged the conditions might be in winter, but this is a lovely event no matter what the wind throws at you. Just take some warm clothes, and change wet clothes afterwards rather than relying on a car heater to dry you off. I was still very glad I’d picked this run, as I’m sure the chat can’t be beaten, even if other places in Ireland might equal it. Completing it also marked my 10th event in Ireland, which means I’ve run at least 10 different events in each of 10 countries, a nice round number to hit.

Results from Erris parkrun, event 275, 19/11/2022. 23 finishers.

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