This month we tracked down Myles Caulfield who is a volunteer with An Óige.
1. What was your first hostelling memory?
Age 18 in Glenmalure Youth Hostel on my own. Back then hostellers collected the key from Mrs. Nolan who lived in a farmhouse about 2km from the hostel. It has since been demolished. She gave me two logs to take up to the hostel. There I spent the night with no light and no way of lighting a fire!
2. Do you prefer mountains, cities or the coast? Why?
Mountains, I always considered myself a hillwalker, and although most of us engaged in rock-climbing we laughed at any one who called themselves a mountaineer.
3. What is your favourite hostel in the network and why?
I have two – Glenmalure and Ben Lettery YH. They are both in the heart of serious mountains and you can start on the hills right from the door of the hostel.
4. Describe your ideal hostel companion
One who will keep you company during a days walk and on whom you can rely in an emergency. Generally conversation can be reserved until you reach the hostel and are sitting at the fire.
5. What is your favourite place near a hostel?
There are many. Right now it’s the Glencoaghan horseshoe, a classic walk in the Twelve Bens, consisting of 16 to 18 km and a combined assent of almost 3,000 meters near the Ben Lettery Connemara Hostel.
6. What do you always bring with you to a hostel?
Far too much.
7. What is your favourite book or website to browse in a hostel?
The Way That I Went
8. What is your favourite meal to cook in a hostel?
I do not have one. Recently a friend dropped off a half dozen mountain trout to me when I was in Ben Lettery. I baked them on a bed of carrot batons and sliced tomatoes with several cloves of garlic, all smothered in olive oil and served them with boiled potatoes and beans. I was able to feed quite a number of hostellers with that.
9. What is your advice to people who have never hostelled before?
Try it and see. Words alone cannot convey the width and depth of the experience
10. How did you come to volunteer with An Óige?
I was first asked to join The Leaders Committee to organize hostelling weekends throughout the year. These events were advertised in The Evening Herald, giving details of the mountain walk to and from the hostel including the distance and the mountains to be climbed as well as the names of the leaders.
I was soon asked by the committee to put myself forward for election to the governing body of An Óige. The elections by the way, was by postal ballot under the PR system as practiced by The State. The purpose of me being elected to the Council was that I was then to negotiate my way onto the National Executive and once there get myself appointed as Chair of the Leaders Committee.
Since then I have held many positions within and outside An Óige.
I have been a member of the Trust Co. Secretary of the Finance Committee Chair of the An Óige Mountain Rescue Group, Treasurer of the Irish Mountain Rescue Association, Chair of the An Óige Mountaineering Group, An Óige’s representative to the National Youth Council, and to the Wicklow Uplands Council and Hon. Sec to the Irish Mountain Leadership Training Board (BOS)
I now act as volunteer manager in the Youth Hostels at Ben Lettery,
Trá na Rossan and back where I started, Glenmalure.
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