Ringsend man takes on Tour De Canals for Féileacáin and See Change

By Louise Whelan

Get on yer bike with local Ringsend resident Dave Donnelly as he has organised a charity cycle fundraising event for two charities (Féileacáin and See Change) this coming May 16th – 19th.  The idea is to cycle along two canals, the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal which is roughly around 300 km and it’s going to be completed over the course of the four days.  It will all kick off from the Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre from 8.30/9am on the day and start time at approximately 10am. Each cycle will roughly take around five or six hours.  But this is no ordinary cycle.

Dave Donnelly at Grand Canal Docks

Day 1 (Thursday 16th May) will be from Ringsend to Mullingar, Day 2 will be Mullingar to Athlone, Day 3 from Athlone to Tullamore and then finally on Sunday 19th May, Tullamore back to Ringsend.  If some people want to cycle one leg of the route, which would be 75 km to 90km, that is also encouraged as every bit helps to raise funds and help make the charities more visible within the communities.  Participants will be issued with a sponsor card and all the money raised will be allocated to both charities.

There will be designated stops along the way for short chats from different people assigned to talk about the history of the canals and about mental health.  The local communities and councils in each area will also provide entertainment or activities like an ice box challenge. There will be different activities planned throughout the days.  Dave is also organising camping each night at the different stages of the route for the people who sign up for the four days so having your own tent or sharing with someone is advisable. The camping will have everyone together getting to know one another, having the craic, and also enjoying the fresh air of the countryside, the visual aspects of the different scenery and the camaraderie and bonding of being part of a fundraising event and knowing that you are making a difference.

This cycle though is not a race and the reason that Dave picked the canals is because of the flatness of the roads so any level of cycling is included with no experience necessary.  It is aimed at 18s and over for both men and women who have an interest in cycling and want to challenge themselves physically while supporting and raising awareness for the two charities and having fun in the process.

Féileacáin is a non-profit organisation who have been supporting bereaved parents since 2009, it was founded and led by parents affected by the death of a baby during or after pregnancy.  They provide support services for those who really need it and any donation makes a huge difference to a family who sadly do rely on their services. Ringsender Anthony Ownes is a member of Féilaecáin Fathers, a group of bereaved dads who come together to talk about their loss and hold football charity events to help them help others in the same situation.

See Change is Ireland’s organisation dedicated to ending mental health stigma.  The annual Green ribbon campaign aims to spread awareness about all mental health difficulties and discriminations.  See Change hosts events and runs social media campaigns, supporting workplaces, organisations and the general public across Ireland to start having honest and open conversations about mental health.  The Green Ribbon symbolises this.  Anthony O’Riordan is a local man involved in this charity.

Dave is in talks to get funding to help with the cost and the running of the event so any donation, big or small will make a huge difference in the planning. Dublin City Council is already on board with supporting and backing this cause by funding a pack for everyone involved. 

DCC will also sponsor a big return party and everyone is welcome on the final day (Sunday) in Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre with bands, entertainment and a raffle so Dave will be asking local businesses to give what they can.

Dave has a personal goal that he wants to smash for the new year which is to get fitter and healthier and this cycle along the canals has been on his bucket list so he wants to hit his own targets that he has set for himself.

If this is something that interests you, please do get in touch with Dave for more information as the maximum number of people will be capped at 30, so get in early if you want to be part of this unique cycling experience.  And if anyone would like to cycle a tandem bicycle for the craic, or dress up in costume while cycling, just give Dave a buzz! 

Dave has set up an Instagram and a Facebook page called Tour De Canals where he will post videos and upcoming details. You can also contact him directly by email at David.donnelly22@gmail.com or on 0892030334 with any questions about the event.