A tractor-loving teenager is set to honour her late grandfather by completing a charity tractor run they had planned to do together before he passed away.
Seventeen-year-old Caitlin McGonagle, from Clonmany in Inishowen, was extremely close to her grandfather Paddy Duffy, from Greencastle.
She and her entire family were left devastated in November last year when he passed away suddenly.
Mr Duffy was well-known throughout the North West for his love of tractors and just two months before he died, in September last year, he completed a 380 miles Mizen Head to Malin Head tractor run to raise money for heart and stoke charity Croi.
He did so in memory of his wife, Kathleen, who sadly died of a heart condition and to thank them for their support to his daughter Sharon - Caitlin’s mum - when she herself suffered a blockage in her coronary artery.
Caitlin said her grandfather, who was a founding member of Inishowen Vintage Club, had been intending to complete the charity tractor run from Dublin to Mayo this Easter and she was set to join him.
The fifth year Carndonagh Community School student told how both of them had been looking forward to the event, which will raise funds for the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin, the Special Baby Care Unit in the Regional Hospital, Mullingar and the Special Baby Care Unit in Mayo University Hospital.
The organisers of the Dublin to Mayo run had met Paddy while he was undertaking his run from Mizen to Malin Head and even joined him along some of the route. When he died, they travelled to Inishowen to attend his wake and Caitlin said this showed her just how much of an impact her beloved grandfather had upon others.
So, she decided to undertake the tractor run in his memory and by driving her grandfather’s pride and joy - his 1961 35X Massey Ferguson tractor.
The big event takes place over two days from April 19 and Caitlin admitted that she is a “wee bit nervous” as, although she has completed “heaps” of tractor runs before, they were never this “extreme.”
But she is also very excited and said the organisers are delighted to have her on board.
“They’re buzzing that someone from Donegal is going down to do it and they’ve also never had a girl do it before.”
Caitlin also “can’t wait” to driver her granda’s tractor and is also looking forward to all the festivities that will take place in Mayo over the weekend. She’ll also have lots of family support.
She said: “The tractor run is over two days. We go from Dublin to Longford and then Longford to Kilkelly in Mayo.
There’s a big party on the Sunday in the ‘Big Red Barn’ and there’s a big raffle. I’d say that’s why there are so many supporters going down!
“Me and daddy (Noel) and my brother are going down at the start and then mum and my aunt are coming down then. Some of daddy’s friends have also said they want to go down too, so at least I’ll know people.”
It will certainly be a big event, as acts such as The Kilkennys, ReJig, Ritchie Remo, Atlantic Rhythm Productions, Pamela Gilmartin - Truckin Country Queen and Robert Mizzell will be performing over the two nights.
She hopes her granda will be looking over her while she undertakes the run they were to complete together.
“He would have always been telling me not to drive too fast, but sure I wouldn’t get past 30! We were very close and we all really miss him.”
Caitlin will be hosting a coffee morning in the near future, with the date to be confirmed, to raise funds for the charities benefiting from the tractor run.
To support Caitlin’s fundraising you can also donate at paypal.me/caitlindublin2mayo.