From London to Ballaghaderreen
For Pat Towey, cycling long distances has been somewhat of a second nature to him. In 2009, he cycled from Birmingham to Killybegs, at the same time he was being treated for cancer, but he powered ahead with the help of his doctors. The cycle, the Ballaghaderreen shedder says, was done in aid of the Irish Homeless in London.
In September of last year, Pat and other members of the Ballaghaderreen Shed took on another challenging cycle, this time from London to Ballaghaderreen, in aid of Motor Neurone Disease (MND). The reason for taking on such a mammoth task was to remember the local Ballaghaderreen postman, Frank Kelly, who died of MND.
A group of 13 people, including some of the Ballaghaderreen shedders, set themselves the goal of raising £30,000. But news soon spread about the ‘Frank Kelly Cycle’, and the group of 13 grew to 30.
Starting outside the Claddagh Ring Pub in London, the team set off on a 600km cycle over 5 days. Beginning their cycle with a 100km trip from London to Banbury in brutal weather conditions, Pat says it was past Banbury through Shifnal where the group ran into some trouble.
“The weather at the time was atrocious. We came across a serious flood at one point, and needed to be lifted with a JCB front-end loader because there was no way of getting through the floods”. That was only the team’s first day.
On the second day of the cycle, a 4,500ft climb in Wolverhampton stood between the group and their goal, but again against terrible weather conditions the cycle continued, a testament to their commitment.
As soon as the cycle moved to Liverpool, the cycle was met with cool, crisp air. A much welcomed change in weather.
The group then made their way across the Irish Sea, where they received a wonderful reception on Irish shores in Croke Park, and then made their way down through the Irish countryside to Tyrellspass. At last, the finish line was in touch as the men cycled through Shannon to Ballaghaderreen.
At the end of the cycle, the group had raised a massive £250,000, by no means an insignificant number. The aches and pains after 10 hours in the saddle was worth it, says Pat.
That was not the end of journey however, with the cycle gaining recognition at the recent Western People Sports Awards. The Frank Kelly Cycle received the recognition it truly deserves, being awarded the Community Award accolade, and now serves as a reminder of what true community spirit looks like.