Chris crossing: from grief to light

The result of their combined effort, not just the actual rowers but the various support teams on and off the water accompanying the skiff on its way home.

On 4th of June last year, 12 Gardaí and one relative of Chris Byrne, his brother Eugene, undertook the long planned crossing of the Irish Sea from Holyhead back to Dublin in memory of Chris Byrne.

Garda Caroline Byrne’s husband Chris had been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in December 2014 and to help support her and the family, her colleague John Dolan came up with the idea to do something special. “All in all, 15 of us were involved. We wanted to give the family – Chris and Caroline – something to focus on. To give their lives another purpose and something to keep them looking forward and help them through the difficult times.”
He explained how he had originally come up with the idea back in November 2015 and rallied colleagues and Chris’s brother into the rowing challenge to cross from Holyhead back to Dublin port.
Sadly, Chris passed away in the Spring of 2016 but the entire team involved continued training. Thankfully, due to the ongoing help and support at Stella Maris Rowing Club, Ringsend and also the Poolbeg Yacht Club, the criss-crossing expedition got the go ahead from Irish Ferries weather forecast to set out for their rowing trip by early last summer.
Once the gear and crews were safely on the other side of the Irish Sea, they set off from Holyhead at four am in the morning and reached Dublin Port again 15 hours and six minutes later, having covered 60 nautical miles.

And it was only now that the donation books were finally closed. On the last Friday of August, Chris Byrne’s widow Caroline and his brother Eugene presented the cheque to Paddy Delaney, the manager of the Charity Foundation Beaumont Hospital. The cheque was for the very handsome sum of €116,601
The endeavour has been a massive success as the sum had exceeded their expectations and was more than double the amount the charity rowers had set as their aim when they started their initiative back in November 2015.
The money will go towards funding Beaumont Hospital with their National Neurological Centre.
“We will use the money to buy an intraoperative scanner. Whether a mobile one or stationary in a special operating theatre we still haven’t decided yet.” Paddy Delaney said. “It is a welcome sum, but overall we have to talk about a seven figure sum for the equipment.”
For the first-time rowers of Store Street garda depot and Terenure station who took part their shore crossing, adventure is at an end. But a new journey commences, with the money being used to help some of the 450 patients who undergo neurosurgery at Beaumont Hospital every year.

by Kathrin Kobus