Outdoor Education graduates kayak around Ireland for Console
Pearce O’Toole and Ruairi Leddy raise €11,000+ for Console
Date Article Written:
Monday, October 12, 2015
The Irish Summer of 2015 was not the most memorable weather wise but it did not hold back two graduates of the GMIT Mayo Outdoor Education & Leisure Programme, Pearce O’Toole from Spiddel and Ruairi Leddy from Roscommon,from embarking on a 1,500km kayak journey around the coast of Ireland for the charity Console.
The idea was hatched during the two graduates’ visit to Reykjavik, Iceland, last September (2014) on a three week adventure in the wilds. Suddenly June was upon them and they had yet to buy their kayaks. However, determination, perseverance and luck got them underway and their adventure began in July.
“We both wanted to do something for suicide awareness in Ireland”, explains Pearce. “The issue of mental health is getting more airtime in the past few years and is becoming a topic of conversations in sitting rooms all over the country, and rightfully so. We all need to contribute to positive mental health in our own way to avoid the long term solution to a short term problem. This was to be our contribution”.
The intrepid paddlers began their journey in July and finished in early September. Even though they were hampered by poor weather both pushed on and were delighted by the reception they received as they paddled around,receiving gifts from people along the way.
To date they have raised over €11,000 for Console. On Thursday, 15October, the two men will return to their Alma Mater to share their experiences with current students of the Outdoor Education programme in the GMIT Mayo campus.
They will give a slide show on their exploits, with the presentation beginning at 7.30pm in room P002. Donations to Console are welcome as contribution to the entry fee. Members of the public are invited to attend this event, to hear their inspirational story.
The following is an extra from their blog about their epic journey.
“Like life we encountered highs and lows throughout our adventure, incessant bad weather, angry seas, relentless wind, wet clothes and exhaustion came to define our 1,500km expedition around Ireland. The lows almost always centred on days when the winds make progress extremely difficult or brought it to a complete standstill, holing us up in a wet tent on some remote island off the coast. “
“During these times we thought we might never finish the trip and looking at the long term forecast didn’t do much to lift our spirits. Other days the all-encompassing mist surrounded us for up to ten hours as we followed our compasses mounted on our boats. When land would finally come into view it was always an enormous relief. All plans and predictions of how much ground we would cover and where we would stay went out the window over the duration of the adventure. The Irish weather well and truly dictated our sometimes very slow progress.”
“Fortunately the highs way outnumbered the lows and we were able to witness some amazing sights such as basking sharks and pods of dolphins up close in their own habitat. In addition to paddling at night under a meteor shower, to landing on some of the remote islands around our coast such as the Great Blasket islands where we ended up staying in Peig Sayers’ house.”
“We expected when we embarked on this adventure to encounter some amazing sights but what really made the adventure for us was the hospitality and warmth of the people we met along the way. The Céad Míle Fáilte is alive and well in Ireland, and on numerous occasions we had complete strangers invite us into their homes and give us a place to stay and we always left with full bellies. We may not have looked like it on our return but we were probably the best fed men in the country over the last month.”
“As we were crossing Galway Bay approaching Spiddal on the final day of our journey and first glimpsed the welcoming home bonfire, band playing and amount of people gathered on the pier in that moment the relief came flooding down. We were totally overwhelmed and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but so happy to be finished and the sense of achievement was massive. That welcome home and that feeling of accomplishing our goal is a memory we will cherish forever. Personally we feel we have raised the bar for things we can go out and achieve and hopefully it will not be the last adventure.”
“We would like to thank everybody for their support and positive words of encouragement which helped us through the low points and helped push us home. If you would like to donate to this worthy cause you can log onto www.kayakforconsole.com and follow instructions.”
For further information about GMIT Mayo’s Outdoor Education & Leisure Programmes, please visit:
Pearce O’Toole and Ruairi Leddy at the finish line in Spiddel, Galway, following their marathon 1,500km kayak around Ireland for Console