Meet Road Scholar Hiking Expert Maurice Walsh

On the Southwest Peninsulas of Ireland, where craggy cliffs line the bays and the Cork and Kerry Mountains tower over a lush landscape, you’re likely find Road Scholar hiking instructor Maurice Walsh up on a mountaintop. A retired police officer who was born and raised in Ireland, Maurice served the public for 32 years in West Cork, Bosnia and Cambodia. His first name is pronounced, appropriately enough, like the Cliffs of Moher (MOHR-iss).



Having just celebrated his 70th birthday, Maurice says “I want to keep going, and keep hiking, as long as I can!” And he sets quite an example when it comes to staying active, fit, inquisitive, adventurous and passionate about travel. Maurice has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Island Peak — his highest climb at 20,305’— in Nepal. His favorite memory is the trek he took in the Himalayas to watch the sun rise over Mount Everest from Kala Patthar.

As long as he can help it, Maurice won’t let age stop him. “I thank the mountains for keeping me healthy and fit,” he says. And he’s set quite an example for his three children when it comes to outdoor adventures.  His daughter Madeleine now runs a small family hiking business around Killarney where she and her dad lead hikes up into the stupendous Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range.

His two sons inherited their father’s wanderlust, which means that Maurice often journeys as far as the UAE and Australia in order to spend time with his grandkids!

Maurice takes great joy in leading Road Scholar hiking groups along the cliffs of Sheep’s Head Peninsula, teaching folks about his beloved Ireland along the way. “Guiding people and keeping them safe is a labor of love,” he says, “To see others enjoy the scenery, breathe in the fresh air, learn about the geology and experience the flora and fauna for themselves is something I love to witness.”



Maurice’s Advice for Staying Healthy and Fit for Years to Come.

Maurice makes health, wellness and fitness a priority in his life. To protect against losing muscle mass (a challenge we all face as we grow older), he considers exercise a necessity. His workout routine includes low-impact activities, like bike riding, to keep his legs and cardiovascular system strong.

If you’re interested in hiking, Maurice says, “It’s necessary to train on rough ground and hills, and not assume that walking along smooth, flat surfaces will prepare you for hiking, especially in a place like Ireland.” 

But conquering mountain trails takes more than exercise. Eating right also makes a difference in your physical fitness. Maurice says he sticks to a low sugar, high protein diet. His go-to meal before a hike is a homemade omelet with fresh veggies, onions and mushrooms, along with some cheese for extra protein. “If you load up on processed foods and sugar before a hike,” he says, “your energy will peak and then flag, which in turn will cause your muscles to get weak. And that’s when accidents happen.” So for Maurice, it’s about moderation and keeping a healthy balance in all things.

Maurice has come a long way from a childhood spent looking out over the mountains that surround Killarney. Little did he know that once he grew up, he’d climb them over 400 times!

You can meet Road Scholar expert and hiking instructor Maurice Walsh on A Wee Ramble in Kenmare: Hiking Ireland’s Southwest Coast

Have hiking tips or stories you want to share? Join the conversation — and the community — on Facebook.