‘It was an unforgettable experience’

Ciaran O'Hara and Amy McCay are welcomed back in Derry by Derry Mayor Martin Reilly and family and friends. (2709SJ25)
Ciaran O'Hara and Amy McCay are welcomed back in Derry by Derry Mayor Martin Reilly and family and friends. (2709SJ25)

A Greysteel man and his partner who cycled almost 1,200 miles around Ireland for charity says the effort to raise £5,000 was “an unforgettable experience”.

Derry couple Ciaran O’Hara and Amy McCay were welcomed home at the Guildhall after their charity tour, which saw them take in the west coast of Ireland in the first five days on the saddle.

Along the route, which took in stops at Waterford, Cork and Wicklow, the couple enjoyed mostly perfect weather with blue skies.

“We stayed with family and friends, which wasn’t ideal for them because they might have been expecting us at certain times but, due to unforseen circumstances, we didn’t arrive until later, but they were brilliant,” said Ciaran.

On day two, Amy, a nurse, tore ligaments in her left ankle, but somehow she managed to cycle through the pain.

“I don’t how she did it,” said Ciaran, who explained there were many times when Amy kept him motivated.

“We laughed a lot and we really worked well together,” he said.

During the last five days, the couple travelled from Wicklow to Newry and Carlingford Lough, and back home to Derry via the Causeway coastal route, past Benone.

Ciaran says the idea for the trip was something they’d had for some time, while planning started last Christmas. Initially they had thought of a cycle challenge in Australia or Asia, but settled on Ireland.

“It’s a bit scary to think back on, but we had 10 days of pretty good weather, so we were lucky,” said Ciaran.

The couple say they’re overwhelmed at the generosity of people and how they’ve raised £5,000 for Foyle Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support.

“My mum phoned me on day five and said she had been out and about in Greysteel and people were giving £5 and £10, which is substantial amounts of money,” said Ciaran.

The County Derry man said they can’t thank people enough for their generosity, especially since they thought they might raise around £1,000 for each charity.

“Without the people and the local businesses, it wouldn’t have happened” said Ciaran. “People couldn’t do enough for us.

Ciaran also thanked Amy’s dad, George, who was the driver for the pair on the cycle.

“He was brilliant and I just want to say a big thank you to him,” added Ciaran.

To read more on the adventure and see photos, and how you can still donate, visit the couple’s Facebook page at Mochara Cycle Tour of Ireland.