THE GREAT nephew of singer Bridie Gallagher is set to spend the next six months living in Donegal as he pens a book about becoming an outdoor adventurer. Derek Cullen, who is from Dublin but has strong family connections in Creeslough, will live in a cottage near Malin Head where he hopes to not only make a start on his book but also document what it is like to spend a winter living in one of the most remote areas of the country and will update his thousands of social media followers about his experience.
Derek is best known for taking long distance adventures such as cycling across Africa and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. His latest challenge brought him back to Ireland when he completed a walk around the entire country with only a tent and backpack in 80 days. It was during this walking challenge when Derek really fell in love with Donegal and spent more time here than any other county. Taking in the popular tourist attractions as well as the lesser known spots Derek visited places like Rossnowlagh, Glenties, Glenveagh and the Bluestack mountains. He enjoyed his stay so much that he actually turned back when he was in Derry to visit Inishowen.
“I didn’t want to leave. It was my favourite part of the trip and I love how rugged and wild it is. My family on my mother’s side are from Creeslough. My great aunt is Bridie Gallagher. She was considered Ireland’s first pop star. Donegal is close to my heart and it was my favourite place during my walk.”
Derek’s book will explore how embracing the outdoors helped him overcome depression and difficulties with alcohol. He said: “Outdoor trips are what helped me to clean up my act and I want to document how that happened.”
Walking is something that has had a positive impact on Derek’s mental health and he is hoping his book will encourage others to get outdoors and embrace nature. While living in the cottage he won’t have access to the Internet so he will have to travel five kilometres each day to share videos of his experience with his followers. He plans to bring just a bicycle for travel but is hoping to get as much walking in as possible.
“I have spent along time on my own travelling and I really enjoy my own company so I don’t see that as too much of a challenge. One of the things I did notice in Donegal was that everyone spoke to me so I don’t think I will be lonely in that sense,” he said.
Derek is currently spending some time with his family following his walk of Ireland and will travel to Donegal in the coming days to begin his next chapter. You can follow Derek’s journey through his social media platforms and his website is www.derek