Mums in May 2021 - All-Ireland Mothers' Union

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Mums in May 2021

Mums in May 2021

“Mums in May” is an All-Ireland Fund which was established in 2012 in celebration of 125 years of MU in Ireland. The Fund supports new and on-going MU projects throughout Ireland as well as specific important overseas projects. Every third year the MIM Fund is replenished through the efforts of members in Ireland and 2021 will be the fourth occasion when MU fundraising will focus on the Fund.  

This year Mums in May challenges members to walk ‘21 in 21’ – this can be 21 yards, 21 laps, 21 furlongs, 21 kilometres, 21 miles or 21 something else……… knit, sew, bake …. let your imagination run wild…… Or you can think about walking 21 of your chosen lengths virtually and ask friends and family to support you.


A "JUST GIVING PAGE" has been set up for the “21 in 21” initiative, so friends and family can easily sponsor June’s walking extravaganza or any other member’s challenge.
Simply log on to:

You can donate to the All-Ireland Mums in May Fund (in either Sterling or Euros).  

Just click on the calendar to bring you to the website to donate.

Click on the Image above to download the "Mums in May"
Count Your Blessings Calendar
Click on the images to download the cover and the insert of the
Sponsorship Card for "Mums in May"
Viewing the Slideshows
of June's walks "21 in21"

To enlarge the photographs in the slideshows hold your mouse under the picture - the thumbnails will then appear and click on the box to the right of the thumbnails to enlarge the photographs.

June’s tenth walk took place on a glorious spring afternoon when over 40 ladies from across the diocese of Clogher gathered at Colebrooke Parish church to walk with her through the 1000 acre Colebrooke estate, on the edge of Brookeborough village in Co Fermanagh. They were greeted by the DP Irene Boyd and Lord Brookeborough who had taken time from other duties to welcome all the ladies to the estate and show his support for MU.

After thanking the ladies for coming, June said a few words about the MIM fund and the rector, Rev John McClenaghan, gave thanks in prayer for the work of MU and for that day’s walk. He also gave to each member present a stone on which was painted the word “Hope” with the following verse, laminated on card, from Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and  peace so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”. These had been kindly and painstakingly prepared by his wife. June thanked them on behalf of all the members and said she would carry hers on all her future walks!

Some Diocesan Trustees - wearing hi viz vests - were also present – several  were walking the route and other were detailed to guide the walkers through the estate; the path had been laid out in advance with MU arrows placed on various trees and fences so no one could lose their way! Included among the walkers were the Diocesan Chaplain, Rev Charles Eames and his wife, Shirley. In fact, at the half way point they strode out ahead and were first to finish the 7km.

The walkers set off down the main path into the estate from Colebrooke Parish Church Hall and along the Old Colebrooke Park Road, through the 'Grand Gates' entrance and along the main drive towards Colebrooke House. They passed under the  bridge which was part of the carriageway into the estate, turning into  the Oak Avenue leading to the Fivemiletown entrance to the estate, crossing Kidds Bridge over Colebrooke River. They turned and retraced that mile long avenue, marvelling at the drifts of bluebells , the primroses and the smell of wild garlic, as well as the rhododendrons coming into bloom, and walked alongside the  river, renowned for its fishing. They followed the path to the right  and then passed the front of Colebrooke House, the courtyard which houses some business enterprises and the estate farmyard. Some then walked round the lake where they encountered a sole fisherman trying to land trout. Finally, those who had undertaken the entire route, proceeded along the main avenue with Colebrooke Parish Church sitting on the distant hilltop to their right.

The  trustees had provided light refreshments at the parish hall and the members sat outside for a while catching up with old friends - that was a very important part of the afternoon for everyone!

June said it was the first walk where she felt it was the verge of summer….some sun, a light breeze and warmth in the air!.

The Peace Bridge

The City Walls

On her ninth walk June continued in Derry and Raphoe but on this occasion tackled Derry’s walls – and much else besides. The walkers gathered in St Columb’s Park off the Limavady Road at 11am. The Park is located on the banks of the River Foyle and comprises 70 acres of parkland in a historic demesne dating back to the 12th century. Contained within the park are the ruins of the medieval St. Brecan’s Church, although most of the original church was demolished in the mid-15th century as the Bishop at the time wished to use the stones to build a palace!

The walkers gathered first around the statue of St Columba for prayers led by the Diocesan Chaplain, Canon Katie McAteer. Her very powerful prayers focussed on peace and building bridges. The group included the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Rt Rev Andrew Forster, DP Jacqui Armstrong, and trustees, branch  leaders and members from various branches - Irene Hewitt, Pauline Doherty, Doreen Sidebottom, Linda Hughes, Betty McKinley, Kathleen  Finlay and Eva Wright - and the occasional husband!  

Standing around  the statue, they were treated to the first of four history lessons for the morning. Local historian and tour guide, Hazel Philson (sister of the Templemore Branch leader, Irene Hewitt) gave a number of short talks along the way about St Columba, the history of the city and its churches. At the beginning of the walk they noted that the statue – with Columba holding a dove - was erected in 2013 and at that time twelve bronze-cast doves were placed along a new Christian heritage trail from the Waterside to the city centre. The group passed a few of these during the morning.

After gathering coats and umbrellas, as dark clouds started to roll in from the south east, ten members (socially distanced of course!) began the walk through the woods of St Columb’s Park, on to the riverside path towards the city. They turned right to cross the  Peace Bridge - a  235m pedestrian bridge opened in 2011, supported by two sloping pillars which symbolise the coming together of the two communities in L’derry City. They crossed the road at the end of the bridge, walked past the Guildhall and - joining  the Pilgrim Route - went from Guildhall Square, through Magazine Gate, up steep steps on to The Walls. After walking up the incline of the footpath on top of the Walls, they arrived at St Augustine’s Church where Hazel spoke about the church and its graveyard - the site of the oldest monastery in the city.

The walkers then moved further along the walls to the Double Bastion where Hazel gave her final talk of the day, concentrating on what could be seen that viewpoint - including Long Tower Church and St Columb’s Well. They continued over Bishop’s Gate, passing the original See House, and followed the path round to the entrance to the grounds of St Columb’s Cathedral where they were welcomed by Dean Raymond Stewart. The Bishop conducted a short service of Midday Prayers based on the Mothers’ Union Prayers for the day, “Thy  Kingdom Come” global prayer material and the prayer of St Columb.

The Cathedral Historian, Ian Bartlett, led a tour of the Cathedral pointing out some of the important artefacts and beautiful stained glass windows. June said she was especially enthralled by the portraits, windows and memorabilia connected with Cecil Frances Alexander who had fascinated her for a great many years mainly because of her wonderful hymns and philanthropic works. She thought that Mrs Alexander would have made a great leader in the early MU movement, but unfortunately it was only arriving in Ireland as she was coming to the end of her life.

The  group resumed the walk back to St Columb’s park, along the Walls and down the steps at Ferryquay Gate on to Guildhall Square. From Shipquay Gate they viewed the city on one side and the River Foyle on the other, before setting off along its western banks on the Riverside Walk towards Craigavon Bridge. There they crossed at the lower deck and turned left at the end towards the railway station. They  continued towards Ebrington Barracks and across the Parade Grounds towards the sailor sculpture, surrounded by the refurbished buildings around the Square. They completed the 7.2km walk by following the left side of the Square before turning left through the main gates back into St Columb’s Park, and a well-deserved picnic in the Walled Garden.

It was a delightful day for all involved – with such varieties - weather: sun, rain and hail; surroundings: woodland, river and city; perspectives: views of the City from the Walls and from across the river Foyle; and company: members from across the diocese, clergy and historians, the latter giving a special added dimension to the day!

June began her eight walk, her first in Derry and Raphoe, outside the parish hall of St Paul’s Parish Church in the centre of Articlave on a beautiful sunny morning. After posing for photographs for the local paper and a short talk about the church by Sandra Simpson, a local historian and MU member, the rector Rev’d Chris MacBruithin, prayed with the walkers before they started the route for the day.

The walkers, under the leadership of Marlyn Quigley, Castlerock MU Branch Leader; included the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Rt Rev’d Andrew Forster, Jacqui Armstrong, DP of D and R, Kathleen Finlay, D and R  Diocesan Secretary, Avril McNee, former DP of D and R, and representative members from Articlave, Castlerock, Drumachose (Limavady) and Aghadowey branches, including also the branch leaders of the latter two – Jean and Hazel.
Walking in pairs and socially distanced, they made their way along the main Mussenden Road  turning right at Hazlett House, down Sea Road to the outskirts of  Castlerock. At the mini roundabout they turned left on to Castle Walk, and followed various roads arriving at School Lane and, after passing the former primary school and school master’s house, they turned on to Tunnel Brae. After admiring the wonderful views to the left - the Bishop’s Palace (Downhill Castle) and Bishop’s Gate, with Inishowen visible in the distance - and on their right Castlerock village and the beach towards the Barmouth, they proceeded downhill turning right on to Main Street and to Castlerock and Christchurch Church Hall. There seating and refreshments were provided outside for the group and everyone felt it was great to have time to chat with members on such a glorious afternoon. Sandra also reminded everyone of the connection of CS Lewis with the village as he used to holiday there each year.  

After thanks by Jacqui and June, and words of encouragement, thanks and prayers by Bishop Andrew, some of the group resumed the walk back to Articlave - first down from Main Street along to the end of shore road (with some walkers stopping for locally-made ice cream and some venturing briefly on the beach) before starting the return walk up Sea Road and turning left along the footpath of Mussenden Road back to Articlave.

June said it had been perfect weather for this circular walk of 7.2km  which included such spectacular views: breezy but no strong winds, neither warm nor particularly cold, sun with intermittent cloud, no significant inclines and great company and “craic”.

For walk number 7, the group of ladies gathered with June on a very cold afternoon at St Anne’s Parish Church in the centre of Dungannon where they were met by the rector, Rev’d Bryan Martin and the curate, Rev’d Graham Hare. The Armagh MU Chaplain, Rev’d Alan  Cross from nearby Lissan Parish, came to see them on their way and  prayed with the group outside St Anne’s  before they set off down the  hill towards Dungannon Park. The group of walkers. under the leadership of Linda Stewart, MU Branch Leader at St Anne’s  Parish, were Sophia Dillon - DP, Iris Suitor - All Ireland VP and former  DP of Armagh, and local MU members Linda, Pauline, Yvonne and Edith. Rev’d Bryan accompanied the group as far as the Park and then returned to parish duties; Rev’d Graham joined the ladies at the Park and accompanied them on that part of the walk.

The downhill walk was over 2km before they entered the Park. June admitted to never having been there before even though she had driven past it many times. They were met at the entrance by a local press photographer - just as a very heavy hail shower descended. They were forced to sheltered under trees until the heavy hail stopped – the photographer was very impressed by their resilience!

The nine walked, socially distanced, around the perimeter of the Park which covers some 70 acres and includes a lake, a waterfall, the site of a mill and more recently a caravan park, playing fields, tennis courts, orienteering trails and children’s play area. The walkers were impressed with the great variety of trees and the many drifts of bluebells. When they completed the perimeter path, the walkers  turned around and tackled the path in reverse before stopping for an al fresco afternoon tea at the edge of the lake. The ladies of Armagh are renowned for their hospitality and once again they lived up to their reputation – all the “goodies” were delicious!

With over 5km on the pedometer, June and three other members headed back up the hill (probably the most challenging part of the route) to St Anne’s  - they needed that exercise to help walk off the calories gained with the afternoon repast. The other five had sensibly left cars at the park. Another great walk of over 7km - combining town and country.

June’s sixth walk was one of her favourites along the north coast of  Northern Ireland – the coastal cliff path from Portrush to Portstewart, on the edge of the Diocese of Connor. Monday 26th April was a pleasant day with the walk beginning in sunshine but the sky gradually clouded over; however there was little wind - unusual for this area but a perfect day for this walk.

She was accompanied by Nina McNeary, Church Support Officer with the National Churches Trust – June chairs the NCT’s Northern Ireland Places of Worship Forum  and Treasure Ireland Grants Committee for NI  and,  in this capacity, has known Nina for some time. They were joined on the walk by MU members Kay and Jean from Ballywillan and Kim and Alicean from Agherton. They all gathered at Holy Trinity Church (Ballywillan parish) in the middle of Portrush before beginning the walk. Canon Peter McDowell led the group in prayer.

From Holy Trinity Church they made their way across the several streets and down steps to the West Strand, there joining the Ulster Way (also known at this part as the Causeway Coast Way). The path took them briefly on to the main Portrush - Portstewart Road but they turned right towards the shore at the point where Co Antrim becomes Co Londonderry. This part of the walk is known as the Port Path, and  it is aptly named as it passes coves called the Devil's Port, Holywell Port and Stoney Port. The next 4km of the Causeway Coast Way follows this path as it skirts the edge of Ballyreagh Golf Course along the cliffside. The path also passes the site of Ballyreagh Castle which was destroyed in 1684 by the English Deputy, Sir John Perott.

The next part of the Coast Way passes the grave of an unknown sailor before the carpark at Ringaree Point. From here the views across to the Inishowen Peninsula in Co Donegal become prominent. From Ringaree, it was another 2km before the walkers reached Ballyreagh golf clubhouse and then continued to follow the pedestrian route along the coastline and down to the main harbour area of Portstewart. They walked along the Promenade, turned right on to the Crescent and ascended the steps behind the Convent. They then concluded their walk of over 7.8k by following the coastal path for a short distance before ascending on to Strand Rd and turning left towards Agherton Parish Church (the church of St John The Baptist).

The rector, Rev Malcolm Ferry, conducted a lovely service with music recorded by the parish “lockdown” choir, spoke about the feet of those depicted in the windows in the church (referring of course to the feet of the MIM walkers!) and offered  prayers for MU, including that day’s Midday Prayers. The morning concluded with a lovely lunch provided by the ladies of Agherton MU branch.
"Archie" makes his debut

Walk number 5 was in Clogher Diocese and commenced at Castle Archdale Parish Church (St Patrick’s)  just after 11.00 am. Leading the walk was Diocesan Secretary,  Liane Armstrong and she and June were accompanied by Rev Charles Eames (Diocesan Chaplain) and some members and friends from Derryvullan North & Castle Archdale MU branches.  Valerie McMorris, a former Trustee Board member, took the photographs and Diocesan President, Irene Boyd, and Heather Ellis (wife of the Bishop Elect) joined the group for part of the route.

Before they began June was presented with the new "Mums in May" mascot which had been created by Margaret Reilly from Derryloran MU in Armagh Diocese. There was discussion about what the lovely little bear should be called and the ladies decided on the name “Archie” in honour of that day’s walk from Castle Archdale. Archie spent the rest of the walk looking out of June’s rucksack except for when it rained - when he went inside to keep dry!
The rector of St Patrick’s, Canon Paul Thompson, offered prayers for the walk and June was presented by Dr Margaret Knox,  on behalf of the parish, with two lovely books about the church and the area. At four points during the walk, Norman Noble, a local historian, gave short talks about the particular locations at which the walkers had arrived and their significance to the history of the area and the Archdale family. The first of these talks was at St Patrick’s Church.

The main group of ten walkers  (in pairs and socially distanced)  went from the Church via the forest path to the Duross Car Park and then to the Marina via the shore of Lough Erne. By this time it was raining quite steadily but, while the lough was shrouded in mist, it did not stop the walkers from appreciating the trees, primroses and drifts of bluebells.  As the rain lessened, the group then walked to the Walled Garden and courtyard at the main Castle Archdale site and finally along another woodland path beside the shore to Old Castle Archdale.  There they were joined by former All Ireland Provincial President, Margaret Crawford, and Irene and the ladies provided a lovely picnic lunch for everyone – a lovely end to a most interesting and varied walk, totalling just over 8 km in length.  
In  lovely sunshine June was blessed on her way by The Rev’d Canon Kevin Graham, Rector of St Bartholomew’s Parish, Stranmillis, as she set off to complete walk number four and the first of her walks in Connor Diocese.

June was accompanied along the embankment to Ormeau Bridge by Alberta  Miskimmin, Co-ordinator of Finance & Administration Unit. The Very Rev’d Stephen Ford, Dean of Belfast, joined June at Ormeau Bridge and they continued walking along the River Lagan to  Albert Bridge where Alberta met June again and they continued to Belfast Cathedral, walking across several of the iconic bridges and through some of the oldest streets in Belfast, as well as visiting the modern St Anne’s Square. At that point June had  completed almost 5km of the day’s walk.

At  Belfast Cathedral Dean Stephen led a short but poignant act of worship  with June reading from St John’s Gospel and Alberta using the Wave of  Prayer to pray for the Dioceses nominated for 13th April. She also prayed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth  in this time of sorrow following the death of Prince Philip. Former DP  Valerie Ash, DS Irene Gates and winner of the recent All Ireland poetry  competition and Cathedral branch member, Valerie Reilly, joined in the worship.

After  returning (by car) to St Bartholomew’s, June, accompanied by Irene,  completed the 7km Belfast City schedule by a circular walk of over 2km -  down Stranmillis Road, left along the Lagan path and embankment to the QUB PE Centre, through Botanic Gardens and  back along Stranmillis Road to the church . It was a perfect day for a  city walk – some sun, and no wind, rain or snow (as in recent days!)  
On  her third walk on Friday 9 April June moved to the Diocese of Armagh  where she walked twice round the beautiful Clare Glen near Tandragree on  a glorious spring morning. Before driving individually to the Glen, Canon Brian Blacoe and his wife Elizabeth (currently the  MU  branch leader at Ballymore Parish in Tandragee) prayed with the  small  group of walkers at the church before they drove individually to the  Glen. Those walking – socially distanced of course - were June, the Diocesan President, Sophia Dillon, and Armagh Diocesan Trustees, Beth Wortley, Betty Williamson and Debbie Davidson.  

This was a delightful circular walk around Clare Glen beside River Cusher. To quote from publicity material:
“Many  of the trees in the wood are multi-stemmed and the wood may have been managed by coppicing in the past. Hazel is  abundant, with oak, ash and wych elm over a stunning ground layer of  wood anemone, wild garlic and bluebells, and several different species  of orchid (when in season).”

June said it was a soothing walk surrounded by beautiful trees, the sound of running water as well  as birdsong, and glorious ground cover of celandine and anemone,  with  many primroses and even a few bluebells beginning to flower.

On her second MIM walk on Saturday 27 March, June followed the towpath of the former Newry Portadown Canal from Scarva to Poyntzpass on a chilly but dry morning. Some of the Diocesan Trustees were there to see her off and there were also two clergy , the Diocesan Chaplain, Rev’d Gerald Macartney, and Rev’d Rodney Magennis, Diocesan Curate  for the local parishes, who offered very meaningful prayers for the walk and for the success of the MIM appeal.  

Diocesan President, Roberta, accompanied June on the first leg, with Marion Edwards and Phyllis Burrell walking at an acceptable distance behind.  The route was flat and interesting, passing Acton Lake/Lough Shark which is a haven for wildlife. The group saw a bevy of swans descending from a hillside on to the lake- a magnificent sight!  There was also a heron intent on its prey.

At Poynyzpass June and Marion were joined by Rev’d Gerald for the return walk back - again of course socially distanced. Going in the opposite direction the path looked completely different - this time the canal and the lake were to the right.  On the return to Scarva, the step meter recorded exactly 7km with 13,500 steps. Roberta had travelled back by car and was waiting with a lovely picnic lunch which she had kindly prepared.   
June Butler begins her Walk for "Mums in May"
Wednesday 24th March 2021

June Butler, the All Ireland President, began her “21 in 21” walks today on her own home turf. In line with government regulations, she was accompanied only by the Branch Leader from Saintfield Parish, Marion Edwards, and they were sent on their way from the grounds of Saintfield Parish Church with prayers and good wishes from the Diocesan Chaplain, Rev Gerald Macartney, his wife Roberta, Diocesan President, and the Vicar of Saintfield the Rev Chris Pollock - all socially distanced of course.

Marion and June walked 7.8 kms around the periphery of the village and through Rowallane Gardens (with a short stop for a picnic lunch), finishing back at the parish church - in pouring rain -   with around 15.000 steps on the “clock”.  June said it was a great way to start her “21 in 21” journey in familiar territory with one of her greatest - and oldest - MU friends!  
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