The first Chieftain’s Walk in memory of Martin McGuinness takes place on Sunday March 25.
But for a group of Derry ex-pats, the finish line will be somewhat removed from Grianan Fort – they’ll be crossing the line at San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge.
Unable to make the trip home to pay tribute to the late Deputy First Minister, Una McNaught – who moved to the States 18 years ago – decided to take matters into her own hands.
She explained: “I’ve known Martin and his family all my life. Him and my brother are married to two sisters so even as a child I was always going in and out of his house. My mother Aggie McNaught was the person who nominated him when he first stood for election so there’s a long connection there.
“He’s someone I’ve always deeply admired. He did so much for the peace process and thanks to his bravery, Ireland is now a place where young people can grow up happily and not have to think about emigrating as we did.
“We always went to see him whenever he came to San Francisco and he just loved to see fellow Derry people. Martin loved people and he always tried his best for everybody.
“So when we heard about the Chieftains Walk, I got chatting to my sister Noreen about doing something here to pay tribute to Martin. We would have loved to get home for the walk but that wasn’t possible so we registered all the same and decided the next best thing would to do our own walk on the Golden Gate Bridge.”
Since then, Una [pictured above with her family and Mr McGuinness during a St Patrick's Day Parade] has been hard at work promoting the event among the Irish community in San Francisco.
“Basically we have been going round the Derry ones who live here and the local GAA club and encouraging them to sign up and donate to such a great cause. There’s been a lot of interest so far.
"Declan Kearney is over this week and he brought over posters to help us promote it and arrangements are being made to send out medals for all those who do the walk.
“So it’s all going great and even though we can’t be at Grianan, it’ll be nice to pay our own tribute to an incredible man who did so much for people everywhere.”
A spokesperson for the Chieftains Walk added: “We have had a number of international entries and we are happy to help facilitate initiatives like this for groups who can’t make it in person on the day. So if anyone is thinking of doing something similar, please feel free to get in touch, but do it quickly as entries are coming in fast. So if you haven’t registered yet, please do so via the Chieftains Walk Facebook page or online at https://register.primoevents.com/ps/event/TheMartinMcGuinnessChieftainsWalk.”
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