26 Jan 2022

Tipperary teenagers cycled more than 600 kilometres for mental health charity

Students' cycle raises €4,755 for C-SAW

C-SAW cheque

Above: At the presentation of a cheque for €4,755 to C-SAW Clonmel, the proceeds of a fundraising cycle from Mizen to Malin by Thomas Charles and Adam Cooney were, from left, Rita Kearney, C-SAW; Thomas Charles, Agnes O’Toole, C-SAW; Adam Cooney and Joe Leahy, C-SAW. Picture: John D Kelly

Adam Cooney from Lyrenearla, Clonmel and Thomas Charles, Árd na Gréine, Clonmel, raised the incredible sum of €4,755 for C-SAW, the Community Suicide Awareness Workers, when they cycled from one end of the country to the other, from Mizen Head to Malin Head last autumn as part of their Transition Year programme at Rockwell College.
Having heard his parents talk about ticking a bucket list during the first Covid lockdown, Adam bravely said he would be able to cycle that in the morning. He was quickly challenged to put his words into action.
And so after a telephone conversation with his friend Thomas Charles, it was agreed that these two fit, sporty 16-year-olds would take up the gauntlet and cycle from Mizen in Cork to Malin in Donegal as part of their Transition Year programme.
A lot of people were very impressed and asked the boys if they were raising money. Thomas’ mother looked at local charities and C-SAW, the Community Suicide Awareness Workers, was the charity of choice.
Thomas and Adam visited Agnes O’Toole and Joe Leahy at C-SAW, who explained what they do and how they provide support and counselling to people of all ages struggling with mental health issues.
Both boys agreed that this was indeed a very worthy cause, now more than ever because of the global pandemic.
After six months of training, the day finally arrived on September 3 last to venture south to Mizen Head for a 600-plus kilometres (373-plus miles) cycle that would take them to the most northerly part of Ireland, Malin Head.
There were seven participants; Adam and his parents John and Eileen Cooney, Thomas Charles, Michelle Concannon from Galway and Mark and Jim Power from Dungarvan.
Under the careful planning of John Cooney, it was estimated the cycle would take five and-a-half days. One “sherpa,” Patrick Sullivan of Fethard, skilfully guided the team to nourishing pit stops along the way and had them checked into hotels at the end of each day.
The car was laden down with extra bike wheels, tyres, gears and chains but thankfully all that was needed for the whole trip was one puncture repair kit.
Day one, Mizen to Dunmanway, was a nice short introduction and these sporty lads learned that Sam Maguire, after whom the cup for the All-Ireland senior football championship winners is named, hailed from just outside Dunmanway in Co Cork.
Day two saw them head to Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick, a hefty trip of 140 kms (almost 87 miles).
They had a seasoned cyclist, Conor Buckley from Mountain Road, join the group for one day only. He took the lead and bore the brunt of the strong winds that day.
The boys learned that you save 30% efficiency by not being the leaders of the pack!
On day three they made it out of Munster, cycling 130 kms (almost 81 miles) to Athlone. They managed to cycle through seven counties that day - Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Offaly, Galway, Roscommon and Westmeath.
Epsom Salts were generously shared that evening, as a lot of weary muscles were in need of rest.
On Day four it was up at 7am and on the bikes by 8.45. The group cycled along the Royal Canal on a greenway. Greenways can be tiresome, however, safety comes first, even if it did add an extra 30 kms.
122 kms (almost 76 miles) later and they were welcomed into the Cavan Crystal Hotel. There was some moaning about aches and pains but of course there were no such complaints from the two 16-year-olds.
Day five was a spin from Cavan to Derry.
The hills may have arrived but the sun was shining on the team as they pedalled along back roads and byroads through Cavan, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry, yet another 139 kms (86 miles).
A lot of pep talks and foam rolling happened that evening but there was still laughter, jokes and fun around the table. An air of excitement and giddiness descended on the group - the worst was now over. Just one more day was left.
The final day had arrived, and even the predicted hills couldn’t dampen the smiles on everyone’s faces. They all knew they had it in the bag; one last push and after the shortest (but hilliest) cycle of 56 kms (almost 35 miles) they crossed the finish line, having arrived at Malin Head.
There were cries of jubilation, triumph and ecstasy as everyone realised they had done it, cycled 670 kms and all for a very worthwhile cause.
For most of the group this was more than likely a once in a lifetime achievement, an awesome experience with a fantastic team.
The boys learned a lot about themselves and about teamwork, camaraderie, resilience, grit and determination.
Their big takeaway is that you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to with practice, good preparation and willpower. And it’s as important to enjoy the journey as it is reaching the final destination.
The team extend a huge thank you to all those who kindly donated to such a worthwhile local cause.

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