Limerick man with Parkinson's to cycle 700km from Malin Head to Mizen Head

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Padraig Barry: training for 700km journey

Padraig Barry: training for 700km journey

A WEST Limerick man, who is learning to cope with Parkinson’s disease, is planning to cycle 700km from Malin Head to Mizen Head later this year, and uses a medical app to help him stay active.

For Padraig Barry, the Parkinson’s diagnosis several years ago came as a shock. The man, living in Adare but originally from Pallaskenry, said that he kept his condition private at first, “until about two years ago when I could no longer disguise or mask the tremors from friends and colleagues”.

He decided to try take control of his condition with exercise, and morning runs turned into half-marathons. Padraig has run 13 half-marathons to date, as well as the Dublin Marathon with his two sons.

“I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2012, I had a minor tremor for about a year and a half which I was looking to get an answer to,” he said.

Padraig said that he would have had early symptoms, which he didn’t notice, going back 10 years.

“When I started running six years ago, I said to myself if I ran 10 half marathons, I’d sign up for a full marathon, and I achieved that last year.”

There’s plenty of new technology that can help with the challenges faced by those with Parkinson’s. One common challenge is that the natural rhythm can be impaired, leading to short steps, reduced arm swing and sometimes freezing stuck on the spot.

“With Parkinson’s”, said Padraig, “you lose some of your natural rhythm – the subconscious ability to swing your arms in conjunction with your feet as an example.”

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that affects an estimated 9,000 people in Ireland. It is a progressive condition with no known cure.

The local man has been using an app called Beats, which works like a metronome to help restore that natural rhythm and to signal movement in people with Parkinson’s.

“I set out most mornings using the app, followed by a short run on weekdays and a longer run at the weekend.”

As his condition has progressed, the use of the technology has helped him to carry on achieving his goals, he said.

Last year he joined a local cycling club, and has been in training for an intense journey later this year.

Over the course of five days he will cycle the Malin-to-Mizen route, a 700km cycle from the northernmost to the southernmost tip of Ireland.

“Parkinson’s aside, I’m probably healthier now than I’ve ever been in my life,” he said.