Ulster Way A 625 mile (1000km) circular walking route in Northern Ireland

Cotton Joe the first to complete IAT Ireland


On September 27, 2013 long distance hiker Joe Norman nicknamed “Cotton Joe” from North Carolina became the first walker to complete the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) Ireland. The IAT Ireland runs from west Donegal in the Republic of Ireland to Larne, Co. Down in Northern Ireland.

Cotton Joe’s IAT Ireland trek followed on from the official Launch held on August 31st 2013 at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh.

Starting from Slieve League Joe was accompanied on the first day by IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol and filmmaker Shane O Curraighin who captured the start of Cotton Joe’s Ireland trek.

Cotton Joe continued solo completing IAT Ireland in just short of a month. Having taken some time out from hiking to attend the IAT Annual General Meeting in Balloch, Scotland where he reconnected with old friends, met new ones and learned more about the IAT Scotland route which he continued on to explore following his trek across Ireland.

The IAT Ireland trek begins with the spectacular coastline of Donegal at Slieve League before traversing the hilly and pastoral interior of the island with its stone ruins and religious icons, before re-emerging again on the coast near Castlerock. From there walkers will find historic ruins and natural wonders, such as Dunluce Castle and the Giant's Causeway as they journey around the coastline of Northern Ireland before reaching Larne where a ferry service brings.

Relfecting on his trek Cotton Joe said "Ireland was a great adventure through ancient landscapes and cultural heritage. From its rugged seashore to the wild windswept mountains, it was a great experience that I will always remember. The local people, whether in small villages or larger towns, were always very friendly and treated me as family. I am happy to have been a part of it!” 

Click here to see photographs from Cotton Joe's IAT Ireland and Scotland treks.

For more information, click here.