Meet the Dublin lads planning to walk to the Eiffel Tower

After conquering the Cliffs of Moher last summer, Scott Ward tells The Liberty about his next charity challenge.  

It took 62 hours of walking, over 250 kilometres and a whole lot of water for 19-year-old Scott Ward and Derek O’Brien to complete their Cliffs of Moher adventure in June. After raising nearly €75,000 for Abacas Special School in Kilbarrack, the pair now have their eyes on walking to the Eiffel Tower in Paris in spring 2022.  

“It was around August 2020 when the idea came to me, I’ve always wanted to just do something that you don’t really hear of or that’s uncommon. I also wanted to visit the Cliffs of Moher so it kind of grew from there, and I saw the opportunity to walk from coast to coast for charity. And of course, the only thing to come to my mind was to do it for my cousin, Lucas, who attends Abacas,” Ward says.   

With no previous training, the duo began their journey early in the morning of June 27th. They walked 18 hours that day and finally finished at 10pm that night. For six days the lads stayed in various hotels across the country and stopped at Tescos and garages to top up on food and water.  

“The biggest challenge for me was definitely the last day. It was a 13-hour day and towards the end of it my feet started to go really sore and the last maybe three hours I was in agony with it and each step was pain. I had a lot of blisters that only really came on that last day, so it all happened at once.”

Scott Ward and Derek O’Brian at the Cliffs of Moher last summer.
Photo courtesy of Scott Ward

“Personally, my favourite thing about the walk was when people would stop and talk to us or beep at us. The last three days of the walk were mad because every few cars that went past would beep and the odd time people would stop and give us food, and ask us for pictures, it was so surreal and an amazing experience.” 

Breast Cancer Ireland is their chosen charity for the Paris walk. Set up in 2012, the charity has made a significant impact in Ireland over the past nine years. The number of patients requiring chemotherapy has reduced by 50%, while survival rates have increased to 85%. 

“I feel like breast cancer affects more people than we think because I know of a few people who have had it or have family members who had it, including someone very close to me. I feel like breast cancer is something that, even though it has a lot of awareness, needs more,” Ward says. 

So how exactly did the lads go from the idea of walking across Ireland to idea of walking overseas, to the Eiffel Tower? And how will they get there?  

“The idea for next year’s walk was just me being weird again.” 

“I feel like Breast Cancer is something that, even though it has a lot of awareness, needs more” 

Scott Ward

“I just love the idea of doing weird things and again, I really love Paris and I know that the Eiffel Tower is a famous landmark and thought why not walk there for a different charity? 

“The route that we’re working on now begins at the Spire. We aim to make our way to Dublin Port and get a ferry to Holyhead. We would then make our way through London to get another ferry from south-east Britain to France, and then onto Paris. We’re still trying to figure out specifics and the exact route, so it could possibly change. 

Scott Ward and Derek O’Brien at a Tesco in Edenderry. Photo courtesy of Scott Ward.

Last summer almost €75,000 was raised for ABACUS Special School, compared to the original target was only a couple thousand euros. Media coverage certainly boosted donations, as multiple media outlets featured the pair’s walk, including RTE News and Today FM

“I honestly don’t have words to express how I feel about it and I still haven’t wrapped my head around it because the principal of the school was telling us that the money can go so far in terms of speech therapy staff and other facilities for the kids and that just makes me feel so good.”