Blind Limerick sailor ready to undertake another mammoth voyage 

 Chris, now defined as legally blind, plans to sail around Ireland for charity

Norma Prendiville


Norma Prendiville

Blind Limerick sailor ready to undertake another mammoth voyage 

Chris Egan, left, with Foynes Yacht Club commodore, James McCormack

IT was so good the first time, sailor Chris Egan from Ardagh, is planning to do it all again.

Four years ago, Chris and his sailing buddy Dave Bevan from Bruff set off on a trip of a lifetime, to sail around Ireland.  

They were inspired to do so by their own personal experience of cancer. Chris had just come through treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, while Dave, was inspired to get involved because of his wife’s breast cancer and his own colon cancer. And  even though he was still undergoing chemotherapy, Dave signed up for the 1200-kilometre trip.

It took eight weeks and a bit of help from different members of Foynes Yacht Club to complete the voyage but the sailing partnership became firm firms and also managed to raise almost €25,000 for two cancer charities and the RNLI.

Now, Chris is planning to repeat the 1200-kilometre trip although he is technically defined as blind.

“In 2015, I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosis which affects the rods and cones at the back of my eyes,” Chris explained, “I would have lost most of my vision. It is gradual but  my peripheral vision is very poor now. If I look at someone I will see either their right side or their left side but not both. I can’t perceive depth or distance.”

But he is undaunted in the face of the trip ahead of him, joking that at least this time, he knows the way. Besides, he added, he will have the support of James McCormack of  Foynes Yacht Club who backed the idea straight away and offered his yacht, Altara for the trip.

 “He said he would be well-up for it as the club is trying to promote sailing for people with disabilities,” Chris explained. Other club members have also pledged their help.

Chris’ inspiration for taking on such an odyssey once more has come from his direct experience. While in Dublin being trained to use a long cane with the Irish Guide Dogs Association, he somehow offered his help to raise funds for them. “They are celebrating 40 years but 85% of their money comes from fund-raising,” Chris explained.

The plan to set off from Limerick on the Altara  during RiverFest on May 1and travel clockwise around the country, stopping off at different ports where they hope fund-raisers will be organised.

Meanwhile, Chris has line up a series of fund-raisers in West Limeric, kicking off with a dance in Foynes Yacht  Club this Saturday night with Different Sound playing. On Saturday, March 19, there will be a Kiddies Day at D&M Garden Centre in Croagh with puppet shows and other fun and entertainment for children.  Then on Friday, March 31, Chris will link up with Desmond Darts and Peter Manley for a darts night and exhibition.

Chris has appealed for support for these fundraising ventures. And if you would like to help him in these or other efforts, he can be reached on 086 8531311.