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Mizen to Malin charity cycle planned in honour of respected community worker

March 30, 2015

The loss of one of Crossmaglen’s most respected community activists has prompted two of his former colleagues to organize a charity cycling challenge in his memory.

Eugene Donaghy – dubbed ‘the people’s champion’ – passed away in October last year following a protracted battle with cancer.  A tireless campaigner, he dedicated his long life to improving facilities and services in his local community.  The feather in his cap, and the achievement for which he will always be admired, was undoubtedly the creation of the town’s fire station, a service he campaigned for vigorously for more than 20 years before it was realized in 1974.

Eugene was held in the highest esteem by his Fire Service colleagues throughout the years, and by no one more so than one of his closest friends, Gerard McMonagle.

Now Gerard, together with another of his former NIFRS colleagues, Gerard Murray, have set about organizing an endurance cycle to raise funds for the Southern Area Hospice Services and Marie Curie Cancer Care, in memory of their dear friend.

Joined by four fellow amateur cyclists – Ruairi Traynor, Michael Cowan, Damien Duggan and Pat O’Hare – the five men will take on the enduring challenge of cycling from Mizen Head in Co. Cork to Malin Head in Co. Donegal, covering a distance of almost 600km.  And to intensify the already arduous task, they plan to complete the challenge over just two days.

Half of the six-man team live and work in the Crossmaglen locality.  Gerard McMonagle is owner/manager of Superbites Restaurant and Takeaway and retired from the Fire Service in 2013 after 28 years of service.  Gerard Murray, a bricklayer by trade, is also a retained firefighter based in Crossmaglen fire station; while Ruairi Traynor is a Newry native, now living in Crossmaglen and working as a gas fitter.

The remaining trio, Michael, Damien and Pat are work colleagues at Belfast-based Chain Reaction Cycles (CRC), one of the event’s main sponsors.  Michael, the firm’s Ecommerce Director, lives in Ballyclare, Co. Antrim; Damien is a Galway native, now living in Loughbrickland and is employed as a Marketing Manager while Pat, a Software Development Manager, is originally from Meigh but now lives in Templepatrick.

On Friday 26th June the team will set off from Ireland’s most southerly point, aiming to arrive at its most northerly tip the following evening.

Describing the task ahead of them, Gerard Murray explained: “As the crow flies, the two points are 466 km apart, a distance of 290 miles. The shortest road distance from Mizen to Malin is approximately 555 km or 345 miles but the route we will be cycling is approximately 590km (367 miles).”

Paying tribute to Eugene’s legacy, Gerard added: “Eugene was a great friend to all of us and spent his whole life striving to obtain facilities to improve the lives of those in his community.  This cycle is one of a number of events we are planning to hold this year to raise funds for cancer charities in Eugene’s memory.  Although our efforts are just a small fraction of what he achieved, we hope the proceeds, which will benefit local cancer charities, will be a fitting tribute to him.”

Local businesses along with the general public are being encouraged to get behind this unique fundraising initiative with a number of opportunities available to become actively involved.

Throughout the journey crossing the highways and byways of no fewer than 12 counties, the cyclists will wear jerseys emblazoned with the names of sponsors.  This in itself presents a fantastic opportunity for businesses and groups to have their name promoted the length of Ireland.

Donations are also being accepted through the team’s JustGiving page, which can be found on the event website www.mizen2malincycle2015.com, and on facebook.com/Mizen2MalinCharityCycle

As the event approaches, up to the minute reports of the cyclists’ preparations and details of fundraising and sponsors who have come on board will be published on these forums.

As a frontrunner to the cycle, the cyclists’ team of helpers are busy organizing a number of fringe events aimed at boosting their fundraising efforts.  These include a raffle for a number of fantastic Easter Hampers to be held on Easter Sunday.  Tickets for this are currently on sale in Superbites Crossmaglen, Murphy’s Shop, Cullyhanna, Michelle’s Hair Salon, The Examiner Office and Hanratty’s Bar & Bookmakers, Crossmaglen.

Meanwhile an ongoing ‘bronze collection’ will run continuously where we will gladly accept your spare coppers, so gather up all your loose change and drop your donation off at any of our collection points: Superbites; Murphy’s Shop, Cullyhanna; Michelle’s Hair Salon and The Examiner Office.

Other events, including a Vintage Car Run and a Festival of Lights Truck Run, are in the planning stage and will be held later in the year.

Main sponsors of the cycle are Chain Reaction Cycles – the world’s biggest online bike store; and Superbites Restaurant and Takeaway, Crossmaglen, owned and managed by Gerard McMonagle.

In just a few years, Chain Reaction Cycles has become the market leaders in online retail through the growth of internet-based sales and offers the widest selection of products from the industry’s leading brands in all cycling disciplines.

Always keen to support local charities and fundraising events, the Chain Reaction team are happy to come on board as sponsors of this cycle.

For all your cycling equipment at keenest prices log on to www.chainreactioncycles.com or call into the showroom at Boucher Road, Belfast.

Superbites Restaurant and Takeaway is situated at the heart of Crossmaglen and has been serving customers the highest quality fast food since its doors first opened in 1989.  Owner Gerard McMonagle takes an active, hands-on role in the running of his business, with more than 30 year’s experience in the food industry.   Open seven days a week, the restaurant offers daily lunch and dinner specials, a healthy option menu and extensive salad bar.  The firm also offers outside catering for any occasion or event.

Superbites award-winning takeaway has scooped a number of accolades including a Certified Sustainable Seafood certificate and the prestigious Fish and Chip Shop Quality award, the first such business in the county to be recognized as such.

Ancillary sponsors include Murphy’s Shop, Cullyhanna; Feeney Print Ltd. Crossmaglen; Michelle’s Hair Salon and The Examiner Newspaper.

If you feel your group or business could help sponsor this event in honour of the late Eugene Donaghy – perhaps in the form of sponsoring a jersey or any of the additional fundraising events – organisers would be delighted to hear from you.  Contact Ciara on (00353) 87 914 8462 or Josephine on (00353) 86 199 4015 or alternatively through the facebook page.

Volunteers are also being sought to help out at some of the planned events, so if you can give a few hours of your time to help raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Southern Area Hospice, just get in touch.

Remember that this is our small way of helping repay just a fraction of the efforts Eugene Donaghy contributed to our whole community.

Follow our progress at www.mizen2malincycle2015.com and facebook @Mizen 2 Malin Head Charity Cycle 2015.

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