My Fundraising Adventures.

My name is Eugene O’Leary and I give motivational talks including a slide show, based on my various charity fundraising adventures listed below. I have given motivational talks to groups like Howth Active Retirement Group, Ozanam House Active Retirement Group, Dublin Fingal Rotary Club and Dublin North Rotary Club and I have been asked back on several occasions by each group. In Co. Cork, I have given a motivational talk to the children in Whitegate National School.

The purpose of my talks is to encourage everybody to stay active throughout their lives, so that they can enjoy life and go on adventures like the ones that I take part in at the age of 77 and hopefully until I depart for The Happy Hunting Ground. Most ailments in old age result from inactivity.

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A bit about my fundraising adventures!

Firstly a bit of information about myself. I became a 77 years old “teenager” on 9th. January 2020. I come originally from Whitegate, Co. Cork, but I have lived here in Howth, Co. Dublin for the past 46 years. My ambition now, is to do a hike from Kaliningrad, Russia, along the Curonian Spit to Klaipeda, Lithuania and to do it as an online fundraiser for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin. “From Russia With Love For Crumlin’s Little Heroes”.

My serious fundraising history commenced after the death of our late daughter Helen who died at the age of 19. Helen had been born with a congenital heart defect. She had been given a mechanical heart valve in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital at the age of 5 and went on to be a high achiever; Head Prefect and Pupil of the Year in her Leaving Cert. year in San Sabina Sutton. She was also my greatest fan and supporter.

After Helen died, I started fundraising for Crumlin Children’s Hospital and have successfully raised in the region of €100,000 for them, mainly through taking part in their annual overseas 500K cycling events i.e. 100K a day for 5 days.

I have taken part in these cycles in Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa; around Lake Balaton, Hungary; Riccione, Italy; Monterey, California; Flagstaff, Arizona; Athens, Georgia and Niagara, Ontario.

I have also done solo cycles for the same cause. I cycled from Faro to Evora in Portugal and then across Spain to Pamplona before cycling over the Pyrenees and as far as Bergerac in France. I then cycled the Camino de Santiago from Logroño to Santiago. On 21st. June of the following year, I cycled from Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland to Haparanda, Sweden and then down the coast of Finland to Pori, before crossing to Helsinki.

Over the past couple of years I have become involved in fundraising for the Chernobyl Children’s Trust, through the chairman Simon Walsh who is a friend of my family and after cycling in Belarus and staying in Chervyen Orphanage; I raised enough money (€5,000+) to pay for a new roof on their shower, washroom and laundry building, which had been destroyed in a fire, caused by faulty electric wiring. I raised the money by doing a buggy push across Ireland, from Slyne Head, Galway to Howth Head, Dublin and then doing a buggy push from Whitehall, Dublin to Whitegate, Cork and Sean Doran; a local restaurant and fishing boat owner organised an event (including a dinner for 60 people) for me in the Oarhouse on the West Pier, Howth which raised almost another €5,000.

During the past year and a half I did several local buggy pushes e.g. Drogheda to Howth. I hiked the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago and I also hiked the Camino Finisterre from Santiago to Muxia and on to Cape Finisterre, on four occasions. During one of my hikes on the Camino Finisterre, I carried a second Pilgrim Passport in our late daughter Helen’s name and got it stamped all along the way. When I got to Muxia, I handed it in at the pilgrim office and collected her Muxiana and on reaching Finisterre I collected her Fisterrana which are certificates to say that she accompanied me all along the way.

I also celebrated my 75th. birthday on 9th. January 2018 by doing another fundraising buggy push for Howth RNLI. On that occasion , I pushed a baby’s buggy from one church to the next, on the Howth Peninsula accompanied by a group of supporters and stopping at each of the 5 churches along the way to give a short talk on each church’s history. The title for walk was “The Howth Peninsula Steeplechase”.

Accounts and photos of some of my overseas fundraising cycles can be viewed here:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/helpasickchild

My Facebook page is at:

www.facebook.com/Belaruskids

Sad News.

Having pushed a baby’s buggy across Ireland from Galway Docks to Howth Harbour and later from Whitehall, Dublin to Whitegate, Co. Cork together with my other fundraising events for Chernobyl Children’s Trust; I was deeply saddened to read the following this evening:

“It is with deep regret and much sadness that we announce that our beloved Charity Chernobyl Children’s Trust is winding down due to the serious decline in funding in recent years. We will support a number of key projects and very needy children and individuals with remaining funds. A huge and heartfelt thank you to all of our loyal supporters and volunteers who for many years have helped us help countless children affected by Chernobyl.

With much sadness,

Deep respect to you all

Simon Walsh,
Chairman
#appreciationpost #sayinggoodbye #support #charity”

On a visit to Belarus, I witnessed the money that I raised being used for projects like putting a new roof on one of the main buildings in Chervyen orphanage near Minsk, that had burned down due to old, faulty electrical wiring; tiling the walls and floors of two shower rooms, one for boys and one for girls and installing showers. When I visited a children’s hospital in Marina Gorka and made a donation, I was given detailed receipts for everything that my donation had bought and was even offered the surplus change!

So sad to see the Trust folding up, but Simon and his many volunteers can be more than proud of the wonderful support that they have given to the children and families of Belarus over so many years.

Report on my Dublin to Cork Buggy Push in an East Cork newspaper.

An article from a Co. Cork newspaper about my Buggy Push from Dublin to Cork. Hard to believe it’s almost five years ago!

“The road less travelled by: Eugene O’Leary

Veteran fundraiser walks from Whitehall, Dublin to Whitegate Co. Cork for Chernobyl Children’s Trust

Whitegate native Eugene O’Leary has the most unusual tan-lines we’ve ever seen.

Now living in Howth, Eugene just walked from Whitehall, Co. Dublin to Whitegate, Co. Cork to raise funds for the Chernobyl Children’s Trust – one of many charitable endeavours he has undertaken, writes Becky Grice.

Known in some circles as ‘The Pedalling Pensioner’, the 72 year old has swapped his bike for a buggy (kindly donated by the niece of one of his former workmates), and covered the 300km-odd distance in a week, camping out most nights and arriving in his hometown of Whitegate last Saturday afternoon, where he was welcomed by his two brothers, Denis and Jimmy, and his sister Mary who all still live in the area. Their support is unwavering – as is that of his friends, family and wife up in Dublin who, Eugene admits, ‘Thinks I’m a bit of a nutcase.’

When we sat down for a chat with Eugene last Friday evening in Midleton, prior to the final leg of his journey to Whitegate, he was in fine form. Making great time on the road – covering around 30 miles per day – he arrived ahead of schedule in Midleton and, last Thursday, spent his first night in a ‘proper bed’ since leaving his home the previous weekend. 

Dressed in his Chernobyl Children’s Trust t-shirt and sipping from a glass of sparkling water, we can’t help but notice the impressive tan-lines on his upper arms. ‘That’s nothing,’ he smiles, ‘take a look at this!’ With that, he places his hands palm-down in front of us. His knuckles to his fingertips are snow white. ‘It’s from gripping the buggy all the time,’ he laughs.

Eugene has been fundraising for numerous charities for almost a decade – and every step, every mile, every euro raised is done so in memory of his late daughter Helen, who attended St. Brigid’s Cardiac Ward in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, before being transferred to an adult hospital at the age of 18. Tragically, Helen passed away at the age of 19, but Crumlin’s love for and care of Helen during her time there has never been forgotten by Eugene.

A chance meeting with Gary Kelly, a Garda Detective Sergeant, led to Eugene hopping on his bike in aid of St. Frances’ Hospice in Raheny and, from then on, he’s never looked back. 

While the Mother Superior in ‘The Sound Of Music’ might have advised us to ‘climb every mountain, ford every stream’ – Eugene’s taken it literally. 

Having run the Dublin City Marathon five times, Eugene has always been an active man. Over the past decade he’s walked and cycled the length and breadth of Ireland (literally), as well as taking part in charitable events abroad. In Umhlanga, near Durban in South Africa, he discovered a warm welcome – in all senses of the word – as a centuries old debt was repaid when the local people, remembering how a group of Irish miners from Tipperary, helped them defeat the British during the Zulu Wars, offered support and local knowledge. ‘There’s a long promenade there called the O’Connor Promenade and the nearest village is actually called McCarthy’s!’ Eugene grins. It seems you really never are far from home.

A passport bursting at the seams with international stamps – including Hungary, Italy, Canada, the USA, Finland, Spain, Portugal and even Santa’s Village in the Arctic Circle – has ensured Eugene has plenty of stories to tell – and the pictures to prove it.

There’s the time he crossed the Finnish / Swedish border, determined to get a photo of himself with a sign saying ‘Welcome to Sweden’, only to discover the only sign for miles around read ‘IKEA.’ The time he spent hours trying to find a reindeer and was immensely disappointed when the one he did find ‘didn’t look like one of Santa’s at all. It had shed its antlers and was one of the scabbiest looking things I’ve ever seen’ The time, in Kemi, Finland, when he decided to ‘sleep out’ in the forest and became a veritable feast for the local insect population (he now carries a can of DEET wherever he goes), or the time he was escorted into town by the local fire brigade.

Eugene’s fundraising odysseys for the Chernobyl Children’s Trust stem from his relationship with one man, namely Simon Walsh of Whitegate, who’s been actively involved with the charity for many years. Simon’s grandmother, Mary Rumley, was like Eugene’s ‘second mum’ and Eugene has visited Belarus to see the work being done on the ground in an area that, to this day, still lives under the brutal aftermath of the Chernobyl Disaster. ‘I’d gone over to do a fundraising cycle,’ Eugene states, ‘and this children’s home needed a new roof as, due to wiring catching fire, the shower rooms and laundry were completely unusable. People were working until two and three in the morning by torchlight to get the job done. There’s 230 children living in this one building and I wanted to do more – they needed more showers because, the way things were, there was only the opportunity for each child to get one shower a week. Back in Ireland, a local restaurant owner held a fundraising dinner because he’d seen me doing charity cycles on the stationery bike on the pier in Howth. He raised €4,000 and that was the roofing materials paid for – all the labour was voluntary.’

Working with Max, an interpreter, who’s visited East Cork numerous times with the East Cork Chernobyl Children’s Group, Eugene’s time in Belarus made him realise how worthwhile everyone’s fundraising is. ‘I gave Max €100 as a donation to the children’s home,’ Eugene recalls, ‘and, the next day, I was presented with two bin-liners full of nappies, cloths and babycare products – and then I was given a receipt. I couldn’t believe the traceability that goes on. Every penny is accounted for and every penny is spent where it should be spent.’ He recalls one young man offering to help out with the roofing work but, because he was wearing Crocs, was unable to participate. ‘I sent him away to put on some sturdier shoes,’ Eugene notes, ‘but he kept on coming back with the same ones, again and again. In the end, I said it to Max and he didn’t even bother asking the young man what was going on. Instead, Max just said, “They’re the only ones he has.”‘

Having set foot in countless countries, walking hills, valleys, mountains, forests and even the occasional dual carriageway in his never-ceasing determination to raise funds, it’s strange to think that the early part of Eugene’s life was spent on less than firm ground.

Leaving Whitegate in his late teens, Eugene went to work as a Lighthouse Keeper for 11 years. An isolated, yet worthwhile, existence, Eugene – with a young family – then ‘went fishing for a while’, before landing a job as Captain of a ship, the Carrig Rennan, in Cobh, with Marine Transport. ‘We were transporting steel primarily from Haulbowline to the UK,’ Eugene recalls. After that, he took up a position working with the Port Radio Station in Dublin. 

We look confused. Do ships have their own radio stations? Is ‘We Are Sailing’ played on a regular basis?

Thankfully, before we dig the hole any deeper, Eugene kindly explains: ‘It’s like air traffic control for ships.’

Duly noted.

After the passing of his daughter, Helen, Eugene took retirement and, since then, has devoted himself completely to raising funds for those in need. His early days may have involved offering a guiding light to those in peril on the sea, but his mission now shines just as brightly.

Recently, Eugene completed the Camino de Santiago, or Pilgrim’s Walk – in this case, cycle – a journey to the shrine of the Apostle, St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwest Spain, where tradition holds that the remains of the saint are buried. Many walk the route as a form of spiritual path – a pilgrimage, so to speak. For Eugene, every step or every mile going forward, gave him the opportunity to think of the past. He doesn’t listen to music on his travels. Instead, he appreciates the beauty of the world around him, whether the ‘butterflies and the bees’ or a night spent staring at the stars. ‘In Dublin, there’s too much light pollution,’ he muses, ‘so to lie down and be able to see all the stars in the sky at night is really quite something.’

In the play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams, the despondent heroine Blanche Dubois notes, ‘I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.’

While Eugene is neither despondent nor female, Ms. Dubois’s words ring true.

Whether being handed a Mars Bar in the middle of nowhere; being offered a lift (he politely declines); getting the best room in a hotel because someone met him on the road and called ahead to the next town or, as during this walk, losing his mobile phone and sending the people of Kilkenny into a frenzy, determined to get it back to him – they did, Eugene is constantly reminded that having faith in human nature is not a pointless exercise.

Next month, he hopes to complete the Portuguese Camino Walk armed with, amongst other necessary items, his DEET and a bottle of baby shampoo. ‘The sewage pipes got blocked in Belarus and this young fella was sent down to unclog them. You can imagine what he looked like – and smelled like – when he came back up, so I handed him a bottle of baby shampoo. He took a tiny bit and started rubbing it on his t-shirt. I said, “No, no, it’s yours! Use as much as you want.” He used the whole bottle. It took forever to get the suds to stop! Still, it’s a handy thing to bring with me!’

Eugene arrived in Whitegate last Saturday, August 15th, perhaps bowing his head in silent remembrance at the Whitegate Memorial, where those who lost their lives in combat are immortalised, including members of Eugene’s family. The day had even more resonance for Eugene – it was his late daughter Helen’s birthday – and, like those who wished him well, offered sustenance or suggested turning left at the crossroads instead of right, she was with him every step of the way.

Perhaps the most fitting line to encapsulate Eugene’s ongoing fundraising comes from the poet Robert Frost, who once wrote, ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”

A little bit about me.

My name is Eugene O’Leary and I give motivational talks including a slide show, based on my various charity fundraising adventures listed below. I have given motivational talks to groups like Howth Active Retirement Group, Ozanam House Active Retirement Group, Dublin Fingal Rotary Club and Dublin North Rotary Club and I have been asked back on several occasions by each group. In Co. Cork, I have given a motivational talk to the children in Whitegate National School.

The purpose of my talks is to encourage everybody to stay active throughout their lives, so that they can enjoy life and go on adventures like the ones that I take part in at the age of 77 and hopefully until I depart for The Happy Hunting Ground. Most ailments in old age result from inactivity.

A bit about my fundraising adventures!

Firstly a bit of information about myself. I became a 77 years old “teenager” on 9th. January 2020. I come originally from Whitegate, Co. Cork, but I have lived here in Howth, Co. Dublin for the past 46 years. My ambition now, is to do a long hike above the Arctic Circle and to do it as an online fundraiser for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin.

My serious fundraising history commenced after the death of our late daughter Helen who died at the age of 19. Helen had been born with a congenital heart defect. She had been given a mechanical heart valve in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital at the age of 5 and went on to be a high achiever; Head Prefect and Pupil of the Year (shared) in her Leaving Cert. year in San Sabina Sutton. She was also my greatest fan and supporter.

After Helen died, I started fundraising for Crumlin Children’s Hospital and have successfully raised in the region of €100,000 for them, mainly through taking part in their annual overseas 500K cycling events i.e. 100K a day for 5 days.

I have taken part in these cycles in Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa; around Lake Balaton, Hungary; Riccione, Italy; Monterey, California; Flagstaff, Arizona; Athens, Georgia and Niagara, Ontario.

I have also done solo cycles for the same cause. I cycled from Faro to Evora in Portugal and then across Spain to Pamplona before cycling over the Pyrenees and as far as Bergerac in France. I then cycled the Camino de Santiago from Logroño to Santiago. On 21st. June of the following year, I cycled from Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland to Haparanda, Sweden and then down the coast of Finland to Pori, before crossing to Helsinki.

Over the past couple of years I have become involved in fundraising for the Chernobyl Children’s Trust, through the chairman Simon Walsh who is a friend of my family and after cycling in Belarus and staying in Chervyen Orphanage; I raised enough money (€5,000+) to pay for a new roof on their shower, washroom and laundry building, which had been destroyed in a fire, caused by faulty electric wiring. I raised the money by doing a buggy push across Ireland, from Slyne Head, Galway to Howth Head, Dublin and then doing a buggy push from Whitehall, Dublin to Whitegate, Cork and Sean Doran organised an event (including a dinner for 60 people) for me in the Oarhouse on the West Pier, Howth which raised almost another €5,000.

During the past year and a half I did several local buggy pushes e.g. Drogheda to Howth. I hiked the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago and I also hiked the Camino Finisterre from Santiago to Muxia and on to Cape Finisterre, on four occasions. During one of my hikes on the Camino Finisterre, I carried a second Pilgrim Passport in our late daughter Helen’s name and got it stamped all along the way. When I got to Muxia, I handed it in at the pilgrim office and collected her Muxiana and on reaching Finisterre I collected her Fisterrana which are certificates to say that she accompanied me all along the way.

I also celebrated my 75th. birthday on 9th. January 2018 by doing another fundraising buggy push for Howth RNLI. On that occasion , I pushed a baby’s buggy from one church to the next, on the Howth Peninsula accompanied by a group of supporters and stopping at each of the 5 churches along the way to give a short talk on each church’s history. The title for walk was “The Howth Peninsula Steeplechase”.

Accounts and photos of some of my overseas fundraising cycles can be viewed here:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/helpasickchild

My Facebook page is at:
http://www.facebook.com/Belaruskids

The Howth Camino

At last!
Three very nice people turned up today at Howth Dart Station for The Howth Camino. All of us really enjoyed the mainly off-road walk and the chat along the way.
I was asked a few questions along the way, such as: would it be better to arrange to do the Camino with a tour company. The answer to that one is; yes if you have lots of disposable money! For the average person, the answer is a definite NO! There is no need to throw your money away. To do the Camino from Santiago to Cape Finisterre; just turn up in front of Santiago Cathedral and follow the yellow arrows. You will get plenty of information about pilgrim hostels etc. along the way.
If you have any questions about the Camino, just email me at eugeneoleary8@gmail.com or phone me at 086-8463741.
If you would love to do any of the shorter Caminos, e.g. the Camino Portuguese from Tui. The last 100 kms. of the Camino Frances from Sarria to Santiago or the Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago but feel that you lack confidence, just contact me. I intend to do another Camino next year, so contact me and you will be more than welcome to join me.

How To Save For A Great Adventure

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Many people say, “I would love to go on the adventure of a lifetime, but I could never afford it”. That kind of thinking keeps you at home and thinking, “if only”. “If only I won the lottery, I would tour the world!” etc. Of course you will probably never win the lottery, but the money you spend trying to win, could fund a great adventure.

The following are some of my past and present self-funded adventures:
I cycled the Camino Frances across the north of Spain from Logroño to Santiago de Compostela.
Next was a cycle from the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland to Helsinki via Haparanda, Sweden.
Next was a hike on the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago.
I hiked the Camino from Santiago to Muxia and Cape Finisterre on two occasions and I will be doing it again this year.

How did I afford these adventures, or more importantly; how can you as a person with very little money to spare, afford the adventure of a lifetime? The answer is quite simple, but firstly, here are some examples of costs.

The cycle across the north of Spain cost me approximately €520. This included return airfares for myself and bicycle plus accommodation and food for 12 days.
The cycle from the Arctic Circle to Helsinki cost approx. €510. This included return airfares (myself and bike), food and just 2 nights accommodation, as I camped for the other 10 nights.
The Portuguese Camino cost €420 and included airfares, food and accommodation in albergues (pilgrim hostels) for 10 days.
The Caminos to Muxia and Cape Finisterre cost approx. €350 and included airfares, food and accommodation.

As an example: How can you get the money together to do the Camino to Muxia and Cape Finisterre? This Camino will involve 6 nights accommodation in pilgrim hostels (€50); 6 day’s food (€90 maximum) and return flights (peak season €210). Total: €350.

How do you get €350 together? It’s easy! Just put €1 per day aside for a year in a sealed money box. You draw or paste a picture of a vicious bulldog on the front of the box to remind you that you are not to break into it under any circumstances! :-). Do without a newspaper (€1.50) for five days a week (treat yourself at the weekend!) for a year and you will have saved €390. Saving €2 each day for a year amounts to €730! Wow! You could have some adventure on that! Small sums saved each day mount up and will get you the adventure of a lifetime that you would not otherwise be able to afford and won’t interfere with the household budget.

Give it a try and the best of luck!

Overseas Motivational Talks

Is any group, organisation, or company in the U.S., Canada or the U.K. interested in the following.

I am now Irish Government and EU registered as a motivational speaker, which enables me to tender for motivational speaking events in Ireland and all EU countries.

Would any group anywhere in the U.S., Canada or the U.K. like to book a 75 year old long distance cyclist and long distance hiker to give a motivational talk including a slide show, for approximately an hour. The talk can be tailored to meet the time that you have available.

I was 75 years old in January. I hiked the Camino Portuguese and Camino to Muxia and Cape Finisterre last year. Within the past six months, I repeated the Camino to Muxia and Finisterre and I am now planning to do that Camino again for the third time from 19th. to 26th. April. I also plan to hike from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf of Bothnia in Finnish Lapland during next August or September (when the mosquitos have died off 🙂)

Over the past couple of years, I have walked from Slyne Head in Galway to Howth Head in Dublin (207 miles) and from Dublin to Cork, (160 miles) here in Ireland, pushing a baby’s buggy! I have also taken part in long distance cycles in South Africa, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France and Finland. I also did 500 kilometre cycle challenges in the U.S. in Monterey, California; in Flagstaff, Arizona; in Athens, Georgia and also in Niagara, Ontario, Canada.

If any of you younger or older people would like to be be inspired to get off your backsides and raise a few dollars/euro for your local charity or just for your own self-motivation; I’m available anytime and will travel anywhere in the world to talk to you.

The fee will be return air fares to Dublin, 2/3 nights accommodation plus $500/£350 (1 hour +) speaking fee. If a number of groups in the same region would like to book me; the costs of flights and accommodation can be shared.

Phone: +353 86 8463741
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Belaruskids
Web: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/helpasickchild

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A Facebook friend posted this photo of me speaking at “The Howth Summit” in Howth Yacht Club on last Thursday. (4th. January).

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