The Galway Cycle is now into it’s 30th year and is going stronger then ever! Over these 29 years over €1,000,000 euro has been raised for various Irish charities!
This section provides a brief overview into the history of the cycle and the various charities we have helped over the years as well as information on the current committee and sponsors for Galway Cycle 2017.
The first ever “Galway Cycle” and it’s impact can be traced and measured back over many years.
It was 1987 when a small group of Clerical students of Saint Patrick’s College – Maynooth, decided that they wanted to try and make a difference. A decision was made to organise a cycle that would start from the college gates and finish in Eyre Square – Galway. It was a basic principal but we knew what we wanted to do.
Why do this? – Two reasons:
- To set a challenge large enough that would entice people to sponsor us simply because of what would be involved
- To choose a deserving “Children’s Charity” (in Ireland) that would benefit from the much needed funds that we would raise
The overall aim – MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The first cycle event was a very small affair. The sum total of the first ever Galway Cycle … approx. 8 cyclists and 1 support car!! While we did have stops, they were few and far between, and in turn with smaller numbers the pace was faster! The group arrived into Galway around 4 pm.
As the Cycle grew into becoming an annual event, the addition of the Young Christian Students (YCS) opened the event to all College students – both male and female. From this point on, the Cycle has continued to grow in numbers year on year!
As with today’s event – the cost of the Cycle in the early years was always an issue and, where possible, these costs were kept to a minimum. For years we stayed in the Salthill Parish Hall. It was dry, the floor was hard, it was cold at times in the sleeping bag – YES SLEEPING BAG! – but the craic was mighty!
There is one thing that hasn’t changed – The weather! It’s still as unpredictable as ever. In recent years we have been lucky, but then there was last year – it was a wash out on the way down, and bitter cold on the way home … A head wind and a chill of -12 on the home stretch made it a tough cycle. One previous year the cycle took place in early February….. this was to be the first and last. Why? Arriving into Kinnegad with icicles forming on the front of our Helmets wasn’t conducive to a pleasant cycle!
It was after this that the GC was changed to March. The intention being that the weather would be warmer!
There were also times when the cycle nearly didn’t take place. This was simple due to people moving on…..but with a very small core – the cogs kept turning.
Fast forward to present day – approx. 300 cyclist, 25 support vehicles, over 30 members of a support crew – all in one convoy.
We start together and more importantly……. we all finish together!
The basic principal of the Galway Cycle has always held true. Anyone who has been involved with the Cycle … in any way… will know exactly what I mean. It is for this reason that the GC is held in such fond affection by everyone who has been lucky enough to be involved.
The Galway Cycle has changed, touched and transformed so many peoples lives – but more importantly… “It has made THAT difference!”
The GC only makes “a difference” because of the special people involved.
Finally on behalf of all the charities – A very special heart felt thanks to you all……
Galway Cycle 2017 – 30 years and counting – Charity, Cycle, Craic.
Let’s keep her lit
Governance in charities, and indeed in our charity partners is a key facet, and with this in mind, the Galway Cycle is in turn governed by a constitution, which is available to read here.
|2015||Irish Guide Dogs||€115,000||Therese Lynn|
|2013||Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation||€151,000||Emma Kilgannon|
|2012||Down Syndrome Ireland||€150,000||Donncha Gayer|
|2011||Pieta House||€83,000||Shane Lynn|
|2010||National Breast Cancer Research Institute||€81,300||Ciaran Pollard|
|2009||Cystic Fybrosis Association of Ireland||€78,000||Eimear Ryan|
|2008||Headstrong||€80,000||John Doyle & Dominic Meehan|
|2007||Stepping Stones ABA School||€81,000||Shane Quigley|
|2006||Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice||€67,500||Brian Casey|
|2005||The Irish Kidney Association||€36,000||Anne Cullen|
|2004||Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus||€35,000||Paul Mullally|
|2003||Irish Society for Autism||€30,000||Peter McGuire|
|2002||Enable Ireland||€26,000||Maire Fox & Michael McHugh|
|2001||Temple Street Children’s Hospital||€35,000||Caroline Mannion, Fiona Hoare & Mary McLoughlin|
|2000||Fighting Blindness||€18,000||John McCormack|
|1999||Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children||€16,500||Eamonn Carroll|
|1997||Meningitis Research Foundation||€12,700||Michael Sheridan|
|1995||Make A Wish Foundation||€12,700||Ronan Barry|
|1987-1994||ISPCC||€12,700||Marie-Therese Kilmartin and others|
Details on the previous charities that we have worked for and the amount raised for each one.
|President: Samantha Wardfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Vice-President: Martin Rocksemail@example.com|
|Secretary: Emer Gilmartinfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Treasurer: Nancy O’Haraemail@example.com|
|Head of Fundraising and PR: Louise Sullivanfirstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com|
|Webmaster: Paddy Walshfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Head of Food Committee: Ann Marie Brennanemail@example.com|
|Head of Training: Bill Watsonfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Following the untimely loss of our friend and fellow cyclist Carmel Staunton in October 2003 it was decided to dedicate this award to her memory. The piece below will give you some idea of what Carmel meant to her family and her friends on the Galway Cycle:
Carmel Our Dear Friend:
Carmel was just 22 when she died tragically in a car crash. In her short 22 years, she packed in as much as she could; she was an inspiration, a true friend and a special, beautiful sister and daughter. She loved life and lived each day to it’s fullest.
Her passion was music. A multi-instrumentalist, Carmel had just completed a demo album of original songs, which she co-produced with her brother Martin & sister Emma.
During her time in Maynooth, Carmel took part in two Galway cycles and loved every minute of them. She always talked fondly about the friendship, determination & the craic between the students and everyone else on the cycle. She was always very proud to be part of such an amazing event and it was the highlight of her college year.
Carmel studied for 4 years in NUI Maynooth where she revelled in student life, never missing an opportunity to make new friends. For the first year she studied Music, German & Irish. After that year, she changed over to study Psychology and graduated in September 2003 with a First Class Honours Degree.
Friends were a vital part of Carmel’s life and she considered it very important to keep in contact with friends made throughout her life. Her song Friend for Life was written by her, for her Secondary School Graduation.
Carmel is missed hugely by her family and all those who loved her, she will never be forgotten and her memory will live on in our hears forever. We know that she will be helping everyone up those difficult hills on the cycle this year.
“Cherish those Times, Remember those Days”
taken from Friend for Life by Carmel Staunton
Previous Winners of the Carmel Staunton Award
First of all we were completely shocked, surprised but truly honoured to receive the Endeavour Award for the Cycle in 2007. Thank you! The Maynooth Galway Cycle holds such a special place in our hearts because it was through our beloved Carmel that we became involved in 2004. The fact that the Award was put in Carmel’s name is a huge honour for us and especially for her, as she always said it was one of the highlights of her college year.
We have been involved in the collecting, cycling and the support crew and each part is equally as fun and challenging as the other. In Creagh Training Centre preparations for the food stops begin early that week and it’s a very exciting event for the trainees and staff, they’re always sorry you can’t stay longer! We’re glad to see that the staff in the Training Centre and the Health Service Executive (HSE) would like to continue to support and help in any way they can.
You are an amazing group of people who put so much time, work and effort into organising the cycle which benefits so many children’s charities and you have supported us in ways we will never forget, one of the abiding memories we have is the guard of honour you gave Carmel at her funeral. It means so much to us that she’s remembered every year through the award. We wish you all the very best in everything you do and will always look forward to catching up with you on the weekends of the Cycle. We’re delighted to have made so many friends and don’t forget if you are in the Ballinasloe-Eyrecourt area, you’re welcome to drop in for a cuppa!
Martin, Olive, Audrey, Emma, Martin & John
After spending the year deciding who to give the award to – reviewing the videos, looking at photos, remembering her own years on the cycle and coming on the Galway Cycle weekend 2006 – Marie-Therese decided the most worthy recipient of the award were the unsung heroes of the weekend. Braving the elements and with boundless enthusiasm, the collectors truly are an essential part of the weekend, without whom the cycle would be a much lesser event.
I am deeply honoured to receive the Galway Cycle Endeavour award, I never expected to receive the award as my current participation is not quite at its previous level! I believe that I receive the award on behalf of all the people who were involved with the cycle in the early days, the initial cycle to Athlone with everyone cycling and collecting on a rotation basis. The cycle was initiated as a Young Christian Student action by Mick Barry, Mick Connaughton and Pat Fleming. Over the years the cycle grew in numbers and structure. I am always delighted to see that the ideals and values of the cycle still exist and that the spirit of friendship, commitment and generosity is reflected among all the participants. To me returning to the cycle each year offers an opportunity to renew friendships, to share laughs and meet new people.
I was very amused after receiving my award to be reminded of one of my personal experiences of the cycle – “the Fall!”. I realise so much work goes into the organisation of the cycle annually and again it is a great tribute to the committee each year because without the continued volunteerism and leadership the cycle would not have survived..
It is great to be involved in this fun event. It will always remain a date in my diary. It is great to meet so many great people who make this weekend such a memorable occasion while doing good for a worthwhile Children’s Charity. It was an honour to receive the Endeavour award in 2004.
I am very very proud to be involved with such a group of selfless fun loving caring people whose only aim is to make a day, a week and some years better for somebody less fortunate that ourselves. The sense of achievement one gets on the Sunday night back in Maynooth is unbeatable. The Galway cycle weekend is a special weekend in my calendar.
Firstly, it is the one time of the year that I keep free to catch up with all the crew from previous years. We will all have great crack, enjoy ourselves and then finally – with a serious side do something worth while for a great charity – usually close to home.
Secondly, it is great to see the Cycle still going strong all these years later. (Note that I did not say how long – on my part!!!) I hope that this will continue because it is only later, when we see all the hard work and effort given by all -that for me personally I can look back and say that the weekend was great, and something great was really achieved – both on a personal level and for the charity concerned.
On a final note – “Here’s to the future of the Galway Cycle!” May it continue for many more years to come and go from strength to strength. In saying this a word of warning. I hope that the real meaning of what the Galway Cycle is about is never lost, – nor forgotten!
Best wishes to all and good luck. Happy Cycling.
Here is a selection of just a few of them!
Just know that this will be your body’s toughest test.
If you jump upon the saddle and blend in with best,
Just know that you will need those extra socks and thermal vest.
If you can cycle through the rain,
But keep that smile upon your face,
If you can hide all of the pain,
But keep the unrelenting pace.
If you can land in Galway city aching everywhere,
To cheers, tears, heartfelt hugs and a well deserved fanfare.
If you can stay up on your feet when it feels too much to bare,
And sing and shout and celebrate, just shows how much you care!
If you can dress as Willy Wonka,
Or attempt to sing some songs,
If you don’t care you look a plonka,
Because you’re helping right some wrongs.
If you can stay out partying until the early morn,
And still get on that saddle at the freezing break of dawn.
If you can keep on pedaling though looking quite forlorn,
Tears streaming down your face and your spirit almost torn.
If you can keep on fighting,
And make it to the end,
Through the wind that keeps on biting,
You’ll be a Galway Cyclist my friend!
– Leanne Hagerty
the miles complete, the distance run
we look back along the way we sped
and know we’ve lots more done than said
‘Cos words can simply not explain,
A simple verse cannot contain
That GC thing we’ve come to know,
to love, and share and cherish so.
You hear it in some wit’s wisecrack,
feel a helping hand upon the back.
see the crowds out training, week on week,
taste a salty tear run down your cheek.
When the road seems long and getting longer
That GC thing comes helping stronger,
You rest assured, though you’re in trouble
You’re still within the GC bubble.
Each rapid stretch, each slow incline,
I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine
There’s nowt they wouldn’t do for you,
Your GC comrades, two by two.
The support you know is always there,
Collectors with their loud fanfare,
Pedal though it’s hard to bear,
Unbridled joy inside Eyre Square.
A day collecting, smiling bright,
A sea of orange, red or white,
Talents shown and laughter shared,
Stories told and then compared.
And later on in Monroe’s live,
Spirits high and legs revived
We learn the struggles we help to ease
and know the juice was worth the squeeze.
Friends ask to help them comprehend,
“You’ll know when you’ve been there, my friend”
Then with friendships fed and banter drawn,
An hour of sleep, we leave at dawn.
Turn backs upon Atlantic foam,
knuckle down, we’re pedalling home.
Through biting wind, or snow or rain,
we heed the call, don’t mind the pain,
And within a year a new refrain,
a familiar tune though different strain,
And two by two we’ll ride again
for that GC thing we can’t explain
choose a charity,
choose a bike,
choose training cycles,
choose cleats, fall off, get back on, fall off again,
choose more training cycles, feel the nerves,
choose setting off at 6.30am with 213 people, grit your teeth going uphill, reap the reward of going downhill,
choose a new friend every few kilometres,
choose lucozade, lucozade and more bloody lucozade,
choose arriving in Eyre square to tears and laughs and heartfelt hugs,
choose dancing the night away on aching legs,
choose shaking buckets, singing songs and painting faces, dress as wonder woman, a smurf, a monkey, raise over €122,000,
choose not to sleep,
choose pushing your body past its limits, take a ride in a ambulance, recover and get back on,
choose making yourself proud,
choose making the best of friends and memories that will last a lifetime,
choose a feeling that you’ll find nowhere else,
choose Galway Cycle for the best time of your life!
– Leanne Hagerty
In addition, the following businesses have generously provided us with prizes for our fundraisers, enabling us to run them in the first place:
- Abby Beauty – Celbridge
- Nando’s – Blanchardstown & Liffey Valley
- Zeba – Maynooth
- Chill Downtown
- Siopa Milsean
- Avenue Cafe
- Hickey’s Pharmacy – Maynooth
- Maxi Zoo – Maynooth
- Gloss Magazine
- Eight Degrees Brewing
- McCormack’s Pharmacy, Maynooth