What an achievement!
After months of preparation by David Curtin, Sheena McDonnell, their families, friends and Nina and I in the office, the big day finally arrived on Wednesday 29th May. The cyclists and helpers met at Ballyboden St. Enda’s GAA Club for the journey up to Malin Head in Donegal. The bike van was loaded up with plenty of food supplies, drinks and luggage. Obviously, there was great excitement, but at the same time, the nerves had set in about the actual cycle – nearly 700 kilometres!
The convoy left Dublin and headed for Donegal arriving at 8 p.m., and what a beautiful part of the country it is with some serious views! After unpacking everything, the lads headed down for dinner and met up with some friends from Sligo, who were joining the lads for the first leg to Sligo. David and Sheena also met Mary Hanney one of our board members, along with her sister who drove especially up to Donegal to see the lads off the following morning. David’s dad Maurice gave a quick briefing to everyone about the route of the first leg, and everyone then headed off to their bunk beds in the hostel.
Everyone was up at the crack of dawn on the first day, the weather was glorious and after a good breakfast, the lads left for Sligo stopping off for lunch in Letterkenny. Family friends Ann and Mick prepared lunch and also volunteered to help out along the way. They were a fantastic support to David and his team of cyclists. While the lads were cycling hard on route to Sligo, Nina and I were sitting in the grandeur of an Irish Rail Carriage on route to Sligo (sorry lads!). After working with David and Sheena for months of preparation for the cycle, it was great to be able to travel down to greet them on arrival into Sligo at 5 pm. It was actually quite emotional seeing them all cycle into O’Connell Street. What a great turnout it was in Sligo, it was brilliant. It was great also to see Seamus and Marion Gilgunn and some other members who turned out on the day. The buckets were out and everybody was so generous with their donations. Afterwards, the convoy headed off to the Clarion Hotel for a swim, dinner and then to bed for a well-earned rest and we headed back to Dublin.
The following morning everyone was up bright and early and ready for the off to Kinvara! The weather was great and the lads were in great form. The team stopped off for lunch in Milltown in Galway and apparently, the lady in Mullarkey\’s Pub put on a great spread for the lads. It was unbelievable and she didn\’t charge anything, which that was very generous. The team all made it safe and sound to Kinvara, not a bother on the lads, after covering over 350km in two days!
The third day was a long one for the lads, and it was hoped that the arrival time into Killarney would be about 5 p.m. It was a very busy weekend in Killarney with Kerry playing Waterford on Saturday evening and apparently, film star George Clooney was in town, attending the Harley Davidson Festival in Killarney. The lads crossed the ferry and headed to Listowel en route to Killarney. It was a massive day and David mentioned the unbelievable feeling they all had to ride into Killarney after a long hard day on the bikes, a little later than expected. It was fantastic also to see all the support and of course John O’Mahony who has been a great help over the last number of months. The group stayed at the lovely Lake Hotel on Saturday evening and enjoyed a soak in the outdoor hot tubs before going to dinner.
When the last day arrived, even though it was such a challenge and such a tough few days, all the lads were in remarkably great form and great shape. The last leg of the epic journey had arrived. The lads were greeted along the way by Michael Butler, one of our board members, his son Gary and some friends who kindly joined them along the last leg. John O’Mahony also joined the group for the last leg. The lads arrived into Mizen Head early in the evening after a heroic cycle. Understandably, everyone was so emotional arriving, seeing family and friends at the finish line to greet the lads, was just lovely.
They did it, it’s over, what can I say, that’s the cycle done. I cannot believe it’s over. I am so happy that everyone arrived safe and sound in Mizen Head. The cycle could not have gone any better. It was such a terrific event. So much time and effort went into this fundraiser; it was unbelievable. Thanks, David, Sheena, the cyclists and all the helpers for all your support and for giving up so much of your time to do this cycle. We very much appreciate it.