Duffy's worthy Monaghan to Mizen walk
By Cian O’Connell
Tomorrow morning (Saturday) Noel Duffy will rise early to walk his 20th half marathon of the month.
So it has been a busy spell for the Drumhowan and Monaghan GAA stalwart, who continues to serve his club and county off the field of play.
Two years ago in November Duffy’s mother, Nan, passed away as a result of a stroke and already more than 10,000 euro has been raised for The Irish Heart Foundation and the Acute Stroke Unit in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.
“It probably came from doing things with our local club Drumhowan, I decided with the children that I would do 15k a day and that the children in my class would do 5k a day,” Duffy, a fifth class teacher at Scoil Eanna, Ballybay, explains.
“After that I decided to do this because as a family we all said we would do something when our mum died, for the stroke unit in Drogheda. I just decided this was the time to do it.”
It has been a physical and mental test, but Duffy is encouraged by the significant support received both from people in Monaghan and elsewhere in the country.
“The first two weeks up until last Saturday I was walking on my own,” Duffy says. “I was doing it around the distances that you could go around and then I was able to go a bit further. It meant I could see different local places around Monaghan.
“I'm doing it virtually so I'm in Cork all week virtually and I've been getting people to send me photos. Local GAA clubs and groups have been doing that and it is promoting their area.
“You never know somebody around Monaghan could be looking in thinking it is a nice place and seeing as they can't go abroad they might go there.
“Also the fact that it is promoting exercise and seeing the beauty in our own area, things like that. Exercise is important to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, things like that.
“In the last few days I've had other people walk with me, but we split up into different groups so there wouldn't be too many walking with me. You'd have five or six in most of the groups.”
Duffy has enjoyed exploring Monaghan too during the walks. “The places we chose were places my mother worked, she was a teacher also,” Duffy remarks.
“She worked in those places, even though she was retired 15 or 20 years, she would still be known around those areas. Also where she grew up, that is why I picked those places to walk around.
“My quickest time was around three hours, 20. Three and a half hours is roughly what it is taking me. The reason I picked 21K is because it is a half marathon.
“It worked out handy because it is 420 kilometres from where I live to Mizen Head.”
Duffy was keen to conclude the project on Saturday. “I wanted to finish mid summer's morning, the symbolism of that, new lives, the summer,” Duffy adds.
“It is why on the last day of it I've been trying to get as many people as possible to walk the last mile. Everybody knows somebody who has had a stroke or suffered from heart disease.
“Maybe they have recovered, maybe they haven't. It is just to remember those people. While I'm doing this walk in memory of my mother, the Saturday morning is for everybody to remember somebody they know, who suffered from heart disease or a stroke, or somebody who had a stroke or bi-pass, but are now fit and ready to go again. They can look forward now that they are still alive.”
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