An Ennis man and veteran of the French Foreign Legion will walk the Arctic Circle Trail in Western Greenland this summer by himself to raise funds for Irish Dogs for the Disabled.
Dermot Cosgrove from Ennis now lives in picturesque Kilkee in west Clare and has spent the past 20 years working in remote parts of the word, mostly Africa.
These days, when he’s not working overseas, he’s training for the marathon 250km expedition, 170 kilometres of which will be across open Arctic tundra.
Dermot will set off in early July and hopes to complete the charity trek in about 10 days.
The Artic Circle Trail is located 35 kilometres North of the Arctic Circle and will take the former soldier from the West Greenland town of Sisimiut, cross country to the Russell Glacier and back to the town of Kangerlussauq.
“The idea of trekking the ACT started after talking to a member of the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study Group when I asked him was it possible to hike up there and what the conditions were like. The planning started from there,” Dermot explained.
“My connection to Irish Dogs for the Disabled is through my sister, Clare Cosgrove-Mungovan, who fosters dogs for the charity. She takes pups and socialises them so they get use to families and being around people,” he added.
Dogs for the Disabled is a Cork based charity that provides assistance dogs to physically disabled people, many of whom are children, to perform a number of functions. It’s the only charity in Europe who train specialist stability dogs that help people to walk.
“I decided that while I was doing the trek, which is something of interest to me, that I could combine it with raising funds for a good cause. Dogs for the Disabled provides a lifeline to disabled people by giving them a chance at something many of us take for granted, independent living, by providing specialist stability dogs, hearing dogs and others,” Dermot said.
“As someone who grew up with dogs, many in Ennis would remember my father Frank for that, and as a dog owner myself, I understand what a huge part of your life dogs become. I know how much of a difference a dog can make to an able bodied persons life so imagination how important these assistance dogs are,” he added.
“The Arctic Circle Trail is one of the remotest in the world with only a very small number doing it every year. As the guy who has been advising me explained, in six trips on the ACT, he’s only met other hikers on two of those occasions.
I’m planning to do the trip in 10 days, doing it solo and will have to carry everything necessary in my back pack (food, tent etc) as there is nothing between the two towns,” Dermot explained.
The average cost of training an assistance dog is about €15,000 Euro so it’s a massive investment and there’s a long waiting list.