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Shamrock Gaels go the extra-mile for good causes

By John Harrington

There’s a good chance by now that Shamrock Gaels in Sligo have the fittest collection of club-members in the country.

That’s because for the past month they’ve clocked up serious mileage running on local roads for good causes.

As you can see from the video at the top of this article, their 24-hour relay run in aid of Pieta House earlier this month was a huge success.

146 community members are also running five kilometres a day each for the month of May to raise funds for North West Hospice.

“It was the senior men's team and senior ladies team who started that going,” says Shamrock Gaels Healthy Club officer, Marina Swann, of the latter initiative.

“A club member by the name of John Lyons who would have played for the senior team himself passed away unfortunately in March.

"His sons play for the men's team and his daughter plays for the women's team and Frankie Quinn, Vinnie and Brian Boyd, and Paul Higgins from the men’s senior team came up with the idea to honour John, who was a great club-man, by running 5k a day in his honour for the month of May.

"It’s Day 20 now and we have clocked up 14,600 kilometres and raised €17,000 for North West Hospice.

"The club is uploading fantastic motivational videos congratulating everyone on doing their 5k per day from county players and coaches from all over the country which is appreciated by us all."

The 24-hour darkness into light relay run in aid of Pieta House was Marina’s own idea.

She runs the local pharmacy, Riverstown totalhealth, and a conversation one day at work quickly snowballed into an event that gave the whole community a huge lift and has raised €6,550 so far for a very worthy cause.

“It just went really, really well,” says Swann.

“We were thinking of trying to do something for Pieta and for people who were cocooning in the community and we thought we'd light up Riverstown with candles and jam-jars. 

“That amazingly took off and it ended up being a collaboration between Shamrock Gaels and the pharmacy here. Then we got Pink Lime studios involved, they jumped on board and said they'd love to record it. That's how the video came about. 

“Then a local man, Regan James, who also played Gaelic for the club, he had written the song last year and we asked him could we put his music to the video and he said, absolutely, go ahead.

“We asked people from outside the village to donate jam-jars and tea-lights or candles but that they shouldn't come into the village because of the lockdown for COVID-19 and they all adhered to it. It was an amazing weekend, I have to say.

“I'd easily say we had around two and a half thousand jars and candles, but someone else was saying to me it was closer to 4,000. 

“I know we filled one of the bottle-banks totally with jam-jars and we kept some of them as well in case we do it again next year.”

Shamrock Gaels club chairperson, Lauri Quinn, and fellow members of the local community cleaning the route after the club's Darkness into Light 24-hour relay run for Pieta House. 
Shamrock Gaels club chairperson, Lauri Quinn, and fellow members of the local community cleaning the route after the club's Darkness into Light 24-hour relay run for Pieta House. 

Swann’s Healthy Club committee are also part of a local response group that has been set up to help the most vulnerable in the community during lockdown.

The COVID-19 health-crisis has been a challenging time for all members of the club and community, but Swann believes the manner in which everyone has risen to the challenge has actually brought them closer together.

“Absolutely,” she says. “It has. It has been amazing. So many people are doing so many positive things. I know of somebody else in the community who shaved their head last week for Laura Lynn and she's after collecting four and a half thousand euros.

“I think a lot of it is because of Covid-19, to be honest. Everyone is locked down and there's nothing to do. Everyone said to me afterwards that it just lifted their spirits.

“That there was something they could do outside of their house by putting out their jars or whatever it was. Even the elderly people, many of them got up and came to their doors just so they could have a look.

“I think it just lifted everyone, to be honest, it gave us all something to look forward to.”

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