Tipperary Garda instructor to ‘Carry up Carrauntoohil’ for Share a Dream

Karen O'Grady


Karen O'Grady



Tipperary Garda instructor to ‘Carry up Carrauntoohil’ for Share a Dream

Garda instructor Ken McDonald is hoping to raise €25,000 for the charity

A Garda based in Offaly is currently training to carry a 26kg rowing machine to the summit of Ireland's tallest mountain where he will row a distance of ten kilometres to raise funds for children battling terminal and serious illnesses.

Ken McDonald is a Garda instructor, based in Templemore, but is currently stationed in Birr Garda station after he was redeployed to work on the front line during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has set a €25,000 target for his 'Carry Up Carrautohil' fundraiser to cover the costs of repairs to the Share A Dream 'Dreamland' play area, which was broken into a number of times last year.

A champion rower, Ken is determined to help the foundation after meeting its founder, the late Shay Kinsella and he also constructed a 'mini-garda station' for the play centre, which is based in Limerick.

“The initial trigger for this was when I was in Share in Dreamland centre about two years ago. I met the late Shay Kinsella, who is the founder and I got talking to him. It turns out his father was a Garda Sgt in Thurles. He showed me around the centre and it's like a little disneyland. There's a fire station, an airport, a supermarket, a post office, and a castle. During this conversation, he asked me if I would build a garda station.”

So, Ken set out to do just that by contacting friends and colleagues from Dublin to Limerick. “I started with the museum in the college where a friend, Sgt John Reynolds, was a fantastic help,” he remarked.

Ken secured a station lamp, a reconditioned Garda motorbike, which was installed on a permanent stand as part of the mini-garda station, a prison cell door, photos to hang in the station, flags, and a flashing roof bar. All in an effort to make the experience for the visiting children as authentic as possible.

However, just before they got to open the 'mini-garda', the Dreamland play centre was targeted by armed raiders on two occasions in 2019. During these incidents, significant damage was caused and cash and equipment was stolen.

“That was soul destroying for the people down there, who are just trying to do great work,” Ken pointed out and with this in mind, Ken pledged to do some fundraising for the foundation.

Having rowing in his background, Ken decided to “look to rowing to be the source of this fundraising” and he's currently training to carry a concept 2 rowing machine, which weights 26kgs, on a carry frame, weighing a further 2kgs, bringing the combined weight to approximately 4 stone, up Carrauntoohill and back down again. “All in all, it will be about 12 kms, and when I get to the top of Carrauntoohill, I will then row 10,390 metres,” he explained.

Ken will not do this trip on his own and has a team travelling with him on the day to help him in his fundraising efforts. He has also gotten some t-shirts sponsored by a friend, Paul Flannery and a row machine to sale from Joe Cantillon, of ROWfit, with the proceeds going back to the Share A Dream foundation. Ken is very grateful for all the help he got from St Raphael's Garda Credit Union, all of his friends and his colleagues.

Currently, Ken is busy running, rowing and lifting as part of his training for this forthcoming mammoth challenge, which will take place on August 8 next.

It is hoped that Ken can raise €25,000 for the foundation and if you wish to make a donation, you can do so at https://www.idonate.ie/fund raiser/11382942_kenneth- mc-donald-s-page.html 

Meanwhile, Ken confirmed he was determined to do the 'Carry up Carrauntoohil' “more than ever” now, following the sad news of Shay's passing.