J. B. Malone

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John James Bernard (J.B.) Malone (December 13, 1913 – October 17, 1989) was an Irish hill-walking enthusiast who popularised the pastime through his television programmes and books. He was responsible for the establishment of the Wicklow Way as a recognised walking trail, having first proposed it in 1966.[1]

Early years[edit]

Malone was born in Leeds, England, to James Bernard Malone and his wife, Agnes (née Kenny), both from Dublin. He was raised mainly in England and completed his secondary education at the Marist Brothers College, Grove Ferry, Kent.[2]

Working life[edit]

Malone moved to Ireland in 1931. He found employment in a builders’ providers firm and an insurance company before joining the Irish Army in 1940. There he became a cartographer in the intelligence section. In 1947, having left the army, he went to work at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs as a draughtsman. He remained in the civil service until his retirement in 1979.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Malone married Margaret Garry in 1947 and they had three children.[2] He died at St. James's Hospital, Dublin at the age of 75.[3] He is buried in Bohernabreena Cemetery, Tallaght.


Malone started hill-walking in 1931 when he climbed Montpelier Hill to visit the ruins of the Hellfire Club.[4] Later, while on leave during his military career, he developed a detailed knowledge of walking routes throughout the Wicklow hills. Following his retirement from the civil service, he was appointed as a field officer with the Long Distance Walking Routes Committee of Cospóir, the National Sports Council.[3] There, he negotiated rights of way with land-owners to enable his vision of the Wicklow Way to become a reality.[5] Malone first proposed a guided walking route through the Wicklow hills in 1966, although he had first raised the idea as early as 1942.[2]

From 1938 to 1975 Malone contributed a regular column to the Evening Herald entitled "Over the Hills".[4]

During the 1960s, Malone presented a television documentary series on RTÉ entitled Mountain and Meadow, in which, accompanied by a cameraman, he introduced viewers to a variety of hill walks in Wicklow and surrounding counties. In 1980, he presented a one-hour TV programme on the newly opened Wicklow Way.[4]

Also in 1980, Malone was made an honorary life member of An Óige, the Irish Youth Hostel Association, in recognition of his contribution to promoting the Irish countryside.[6]

Following his death, Malone's contribution to hill-walking in Ireland was marked by the erection of a stone plaque in his honour on a section of the Wicklow Way overlooking Lough Tay.[2]


  • The Open Road Guide to the Neighbourhood of Dublin for Ramblers, Cyclists & Motorists, Independent Newspapers, 1950
  • Walking in Wicklow: A Guide for Travellers (afoot & awheel) through the Wicklow Mountains, Helicon, 1964
  • Know Your Dublin (with Liam C. Martin), Sceptre Books, 1968
  • The Complete Wicklow Way, O'Brien Press Ltd., 1988


  1. ^ The Irish Times, "Hiker JB launches guide to doing it his way", March 25, 1988
  2. ^ a b c d e Jim Shanahan, "Malone, John James Bernard (‘J. B.’)", Dictionary of Irish Biography, retrieved 30 July 2011
  3. ^ a b The Irish Times, "Death of pioneer of guided walking routes", October 19, 1989
  4. ^ a b c Malone, The Complete Wicklow Way, introduction
  5. ^ The Irish Times, "Rights of way disappear through neglect", November 18, 1986
  6. ^ The Irish Times, "An Oige life member", January 29, 1980

External links[edit]