On Tuesday 18th August 2015, Garda David O’Donovan of Wicklow Garda Station and native of Abbeyleix returned home for a while on his bike. His reason was to cycle along with 15 colleagues and friends of An Garda Síochána, from Wicklow Town to Abbeyleix and back in one day.
The cycle was raising funds for the Irish Kidney Association and to raise awareness to carrying a donor card. The cycle coincided with the 25th anniversary of the passing of Michael O’Donovan, David’s father. Michael was stationed and lived in Abbeyleix for 26 years and suffered from chronic kidney failure.
The day couldn’t have been any better with a slight breeze and warm August sunshine. The group left the garden county town at 7am and headed west through Laragh and over the Wicklow Gap. There was relief among the group when they reached Hollywood in the knowledge that the largest climb was over and it was into Kildare and the towns of Kilcullen and Athy.
Entering Stradbally, the peloton was met by the many bucket collectors who volunteered their services for a few hours in the Laois towns. Abbeyleix was the half way spot and a well deserved meal was served up in the Manor Hotel thanks to Alex and Jenny Kent. The cyclists stopped off briefly at the garda station where they were met by Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan who himself was stationed in Abbeyleix until 1994. Support for the group as they left the town came from Conor and Sylvia O’Donovan, Patrick McAulliffe and Jim Fennelly.
There wasn’t an easy recommencement to the cycle as the group headed on a steady climb to Crettyard. Onward to Carlow Town and Tullow and back into County Wicklow, there was a well needed refreshment stop at Tinahely Garda Station. Even though legs were getting sore, there was an urgency to get moving and get back to Wicklow Town and so it was just short of 9pm and in twilight that the group got back to a lump in the throat welcome from family and friends.
The cyclists wouldn’t have got as far as they did if it wasn’t for the following people – drivers Pat Carroll (an Abbeyleix native), James O’Sullivan, Enda Dunne of Wicklow Tech Support who provided technical support and first aid, John Lynham of Lynham’s of Laragh who provided sustenance along the way, the Kent’s at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel and the road users for their patience.
Over €6000 is expected through the fundraising by the cyclists and people can still donate online at www.justgiving.com/4ccforika.
For full and in-depth coverage, see the current printed edition of Garda Review.