Some thought it was a mirage....others a vision. On Friday evening on the main road between Carndonagh and Quigley’s Point there he was moseying along on a big mule saying ‘howdy’ to all who stopped to talk. One thing was for certain - it’s not every day you see a real live cowboy on the Glentogher road..
Wyoming native John Fox, is making the journey from Malin Head to Mizen Head on Job,
an almost 13 year old mule.
And not only are the hat, the lariat, the beard and the boots are the real deal but the clincher
is John’s accent which is as authentic as sagebrush from years of working as a cowboy
in the American west.“I’m doing this for Barrettstown, the charity for sick children, he drawled as only a true cowboy could.
“I came over with my wife - she’s Irish, I met her in Arizona, so I decided I should do something useful while I’m here.
“I’m still in pretty good health for my age, I reckon, and I know without a doubt Job is the best animal I’ve ever owned in my life,” he said.
John, who lives in Cavan with his Dublin born wife, Hazel, brought Job from Arizona last year.
“People ask me all the time, ‘How do you like Ireland?’” John said. “I like Ireland, if I could take down most all the fences. I’ve never seen so many fences.”
He admired Barretstown, the camp founded by actor Paul Newman, which offers fun and challenging activities to help children deal
with the trauma of serious illness. The camp draws children from Ireland and more than 21 different European countries.
“To see these little children and how brave they are -- the whole world takes and wastes so much money on so many stupid things,”
John and Job began their travels on June 10 and the plan is to arrive in Mizen for July 4, the US independence day. But the end date isn’t necessarily fixed.
“I’m not making a race out if this,” he said.
“I’ve been pushing it kind of too fast and not giving myself a chance to meet and talk withthe people like I wanted.” Yesterday John,
Hazel and Job were in Ballybofey, where children and others came up to say hello.
John plans to travel the N15 to Donegal Town today, and take a break off the road between
10.15 and 10.30 am. He spent most of his life as a cowboy in Montana, Wyoming and Arizona, doing everything
from cattle drives to leading trail riders down into the Grand Canyon. He said he couldn’t
have better transport than Job, a mule that towers 16.2 hands.
“They’re such level-headed animals with such an undeserved reputation,” John said of mules. “I love horses, but they’re nowhere near as intelligent as a mule.”
Here’s an example: You see horses, not mules, in Hollywood westerns when a stunt forces the animal to leap off a cliff. A mule just ,won’t jump off a cliff,” John said. “They know that’s stupid.” You can track John’s fund-raising travels on his Facebook page, “John Fox’s Massive Mule Marathon of Ireland.”