Ger McDonnell’s family and friends saddle up for cycle in his memory

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

THE FAMILY of Ger McDonnell, who was tragically killed after becoming the first Irishman to summit K2, are to hold the third ‘Ger McDonnell Charity Fun Cycle’ in his honour in August.

THE FAMILY of Ger McDonnell, who was tragically killed after becoming the first Irishman to summit K2, are to hold the third ‘Ger McDonnell Charity Fun Cycle’ in his honour in August.

The 114 kilometre cycle - from Kilcornan to Doolin in Co Clare - is organised in the main by Ger’s brother’s in law, Damien O’Brien and Barry Lynch, partners to Ger’s sisters, Denise and Martha respectively.

Last year the family raised and donated €4,500 for the Brothers of Charity respite service in Limerick, and this year the money raised will be directed towards the ‘Bee for Battens - Saoirse Foundation’ fun, which supports those affected by Battens Disease in Ireland.

The decision to choose this charity was taken after a chance meeting between JJ McDonnell, Ger’s brother, and Tony Heffernan, who lost his daughter Saoirse to the rare neuro-degenerative condition.

“On Ger’s first anniversary, we were doing a walk up Carrantuohill in memory of him, and Bee for Battens were doing a charity walk on the same day, and JJ met Tony Heffernan, and he said, next time we do it, we will do it for them,” explained Barry Lynch this week.

“We did the cycle for Brothers of Charity last year, so this year we decided to do it for Bee for Battens, because of that original meeting, and it was just by chance that JJ got talking to him.”

The original idea for the cycle came from Ger McDonnell’s fellow graduates of DCU, who have since established a scholarship in the climber’s name.

“It was the DCU lads who thought of this originally, because they heard the story of Ger cycling down to Doolin - that is where it came from. He went off one day for milk or to post a letter one day and he kept going down to Doolin,” laughed Barry.

“The classmates of Ger’s are coming down again, about four or five of them, it is nice to have them involved,” he adds.

Barry himself will cycle to Doolin, as will JJ, several of Ger’s cousins and Ger’s close friend and fellow climber, Claire O’Leary. A number of other climbers and friends of Ger’s are also expected to take part.

The cycle will depart from Kilcornan Community Centre on Saturday, August 13 at 9.30am, bound for Doolin, taking in the Tarbert to Killimer ferry, and a scenic route through the Clare countryside. As Barry and Damien explain, it is meant to be “fun and not a race”.

“I would hope we would have 40 or 50 taking part. In the last two years it went off very well, there were no problems,” said Barry.

“It is a great day out and a great charity, and we will have collectors on the road and everything like that. We are looking for cyclists and volunteers and whatever people can give would be welcome,” he added

For more information, contact Barry on 087-2895021 or Damien on 087-2964129.