The death place of Derry’s patron saint has often been associated with curragh sailings but now a group of clergy from the city is to make the trip by bike.
The Iona Charity Cycle will take place on August 29-31 in an effort to raise funds for two of the longest established homeless charities in the Derry, the Men’s Hostel and Clarendon Shelter for women and children at Ashmore.
The four main churches in the city are supporting the cycle to the island of St Columba’s self-exile and a number of clergy will be swapping their collars for Lycra all in aid of the good cause.
Event Organiser Liam Milligan said he thought the cycle trip was “a novel idea” and an enjoyable way to raise money for the charities.
“I know a curragh went across a couple of years ago for an event and then rowers arrived in the city for the Return of Colmcille pageant recently, but to my knowledge I don’t know that any group has ever cycled to it.”
Reverend Peter Murray, Superintendent and President Designate of The Methodist Church in Ireland, who is taking part in the cycle, said: “The people of the city have always supported the work we do for the homeless and we’re so grateful for that support.
We hope that they will get behind us in this charity cycle, which will be quite a demanding challenge - for me anyway. As we cycle this route we will be linking the ancient Christian pathways with present day needs. St. Columba must have felt very vulnerable as he travelled in his flimsy boat to Iona from here. We are travelling there to try to raise help for people who are vulnerable on our own streets,” he added.
The eight-strong team will set off the site of St. Brecan’s Church in St. Columb’s Park, early on Thursday, August 29.
Day One will see the team cycle to Ballycastle, take the ferry to Campbeltown and finish in Tarbet. Day Two the group will travel from Tarbet to Oban, crossing by ferry to Craignure on Mull. Day Three will see the group cycle across Mull and cross on to Iona.
Once in Iona a special gift of a replica of the Columba Heritage Trail sculpture of the Saint, by Niall Bruton, will be presented to the Iona Community by Rev. Murray on behalf of the Churches Trust and the City.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the cycle team can confirm by texting IONA36 followed by £5 or £10 to 70070.