My old school buddy Fiona Egan from Sasta Fitness brought me back to my roots with a visit to my family’s old pub; The Cosy Inn, in Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon. That’s Fiona in the brown dress in the picture, and that’s me in the purple balero – we were at my 8th birthday party in the garden at the back of the pub. I had lived in London until shortly before that photo was taken, and I was getting used to a new town, a new country, and a whole new bunch of friends. It was a big adventure and for the most part, a very happy one.
The Cosy Inn is no longer a pub, but thanks to the current owners, and Fiona’s encouragement, I got a chance to revisit the old days. It felt lovely to look around and remember my early childhood. My bedroom with the deep window where I could shout down to my mates, and the gorgeous lake on the edge of the town; where I learned how to ride my bike. We even had a meal in Kilronan Castle, which was a ruin when I ran along the empty broken walls, through cow pats and nettles over 40 years ago!
I remember playing in the river, catching tiny fish with a net made from my mum’s curtains (oops) and keeping them in a jam-jar (sorry fish), my friend’s pony Merrylegs, and lying in the grass and yellow gorse under the Arigna Mountains with a pencil and a copybook; writing poems under blue skies and fluffy clouds. I can hear the insects buzzing in the warm sun and smell the flowers and the dampness in the ground beneath me. No wonder I still love the great outdoors 😀
As an adopted Dub I’ve always been thoroughly intrigued and inspired by the Liffey Swim – and I’ve always secretly longed that one day I’d be able to give it a go. This year, I got the opportunity to be part of the event by paddling ‘kayak cover’ for the swimmers. It’s a big responsibility and for me it was also an amazing thrill. I cannot tell you how it feels to be paddling alongside these gutsy swimmers, admiring their athleticism and thanking the universe for my own ability too. It’s only a couple of years ago since I was driving along the banks of the Liffey on my way home to Blanchardstown – looking at the coloured kayaks in the water near the Strawberry Beds, thinking how much fun it looked, and enviously wishing I could be part of that world. At 23 stone I never even dreamed that I could have a go, and joked to myself that I wouldn’t even fit in the boat, and would sink it if I did. If there’s anyone out there thinking the same, can I assure you that there is ALWAYS a boat to carry you, if you fancy having a go. Message me on Facebook if you want to find out more or check out the Irish Canoe Union or my own Wild Water Kayak Club.
It was an intensive weekend of kayaking for me. 4 hours in the water on Saturday (I went out to paddle in Bray after the Liffey Swim), and 6 hours in the water on Sunday when my club, WWKC went paddling at Castleconnell in Limerick. We navigated our way over more than a dozen natural features on the river; rocky waterfalls, rocks and drops. I swam a few times (fell out) but stayed in a lot of times, and it all helped my confidence as the weeks count down for my big challenge; the Liffey Descent on September 28th in aid of the LauraLynn Childrens’ Hospice in Leopardstown.
Back in Dublin on Monday I tried out a totally different type of kayak, than the river boat I’ve become used to. The Sprite pictured in the river shot here, cuts through the water cleanly, like a knife, and I felt a kind of speed that I hadn’t felt before. I wish I could explain how the river looked too. It was one of those stilly evenings when the world is perfectly reflected in the river below and I felt like I was paddling into a picture. It was my first proper training session with ‘Kipper’ AKA Ciaran Maguire, AKA ‘Mr Kayak’ – who I’m partnering for the ‘Pedals to Paddles’ challenge for the charity, when we cycle 40k from Dublin to the K-Club before getting on board for the Liffey Descent. We’re going to spend around 8 hours between cycling and kayaking – hence the ‘pedals to paddles’ tag. We’ve got a brilliant sponsor in Sasta Fitness, but we’ve also got a MyCharity page and appreciate any donations you can make. Check it out at: http://www.mycharity.ie/event/weirsnwheels/
Weds Aug 21st: 15k cycle in and out of work (total 30k) – Running (ish) up Ticknock Mountain with the Irish Mountain Running Association
Thursday Aug 22nd: 15k cycle in and out of work (total 30k) / 45″ Gym session – S&C / Full Moon night hike on Kippure Mountain with mates.
Friday Aug 23rd: 20 Minute jog from home.
Saturday Aug 24th: 4 hours kayaking (Liffey Swim and Bray with GOTC).
Sunday August 25th: 6 hours kayaking in Limerick & 4 hours dancing with Cannonball!
Monday Aug 26th: 1 hour kayaking in a Sprite with Kipper Maguire.
Tuesday Aug 27th: Rest Day (sore leg – not serious).
Wednesday August 28th: Rest Day (sore leg – not serious).
Thursday Aug 29th: 40 minute weight-lifting in gym.