Damian O’Brien, a long standing resident of Copenhagen, is heading back to Ireland. Sounds like a run-of-the-mill story for the Cork Chronicle, only O’Brien has decided to put himself through the mill and cycle home. No, he isn’t insane (despite his claims), and he isn’t so enamoured by Danish culture that cycling has become his absolute joie de vivre. There is a method to his madness.
“More than just the simple pleasure of a bike ride,” he explained, the 2,000km journey is his latest effort to raise awareness and much needed funds for Breakthrough Cancer Research, a charity that supports research at the Cork Cancer Research Centre.
Under the gaze of the Little Mermaid last week on Friday, in front of a strong turnout from friends, family and bus-loads of Japanese tourists, O’Brien pedalled off on his 12-day journey. Keeping him company is Alastair Mackinnon, a friend and work colleague who hails from the Isle of Barra on the Outer Hebrides. At this point in time, they are scheduled to be crossing the border between England and Wales on their way to the ferry port of Fishguard, which they are due to reach on later this evening.
“Having both lost close family members and friends to cancer, we are highly motivated to do our bit to help sustain the work that the dedicated research scientists are undertaking at the Cork Cancer Research Centre,” explained O’Brien.
If everything goes according to plan, the pair will cycle a total of 1,120km: 310km across Denmark to catch a ferry to the UK, 620km across England and Wales to catch a ferry to Ireland,
and 190km to Damian’s hometown of Cobh in County Cork. They are due to arrive on August 28 in time for O’Brien’s son’s first day at school.
Orla Dolan, the fundraising manager at the charity, commended O’Brien and emphasised that his
fundraising efforts will help provide the resources to really make a difference by improving the poor prognosis of cancers and increasing the life expectancy of those living with cancer.
O’Brien began raising money for the charity in 2006 when he set up the annual Kerry Way Walk – a 71km route that winds its way through the peaks, glens and coastal panoramas of Kerry. In its inaugural year it raised 25,000 euros.
This time round, his aim is to raise 5,000 euros. He has trained for over three years on his daily commute and he feels ready for the challenge: one that will take impressive levels of commitment and pedal power to complete. He was also keen to take on board any advice from the online community. Some of the suggestions that made their way on to his list of ‘must-haves’ were lots of nappy rash cream, “a whole load of stuff that I wouldn’t dream of eating normally”, and clothes pegs for airing his laundry whilst cycling.
Irish ambassador Brendan Scannel, who was also present at the start last Friday, was particularly intrigued by the last suggestion, saying it would be a sight to behold to come across the two “white-legged men cycling across Europe with their laundry in tow”.
Damian is blogging about their progress online at tinyurl.com/nrpzaej. To support their fundraising efforts, visit www.justgiving.com/Damian-O-Brien.