21 June 2016
By Bryan Smyth
By invitation of Lord and Lady Burlington, Lismore Castle Gardens, Co. Waterford was the stunning venue for the official launch of the 16th Annual Tour de Munster cycle in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI), on Monday, June 20th.
The four day charity cycle, which was launched by cycling legend Sean Kelly, which has become tradition, takes place from Thursday 4th to Sunday 7th August, and will see over 100 amateur cyclists cycle over 600km around the six counties of Munster, raising funds for the Munster branches of DSI.
This is the 7th successive year that the national charity has been the beneficiary of the popular cycle, and the official launch event was attended by over 220 invited guests, including members from the various Munster branches of DSI and families supported by the charity, Tour sponsors and many of the cyclists taking part this year.
The 2015 cycle raised €260,000 for the charity, bringing the total raised for the Munster Branches of DSI to €1.6 million. Over the partnership’s history, Tour de Munster has developed close ties and formed lasting friendships with DSI, with many of the charity’s parents and friends participating in the cycle year after year. The aim this year is to raise a further €250,000 for DSI.
Funds raised have made a tremendous difference to the lives of people with Down Syndrome in Munster, as well as their friends and families by providing vital services and facilities in each county. The goal of DSI is to enable children born with Down Syndrome to be as independent as possible, and through the great work of the Tour de Munster cyclists and supporters, DSI can access the funding needed to help more young people with Down Syndrome develop and flourish in practical ways.
MC for the event on June 20th was Phil Keohane, Tour de Munster Branch Liaison Officer, and cycle participant, who welcomed special guest Deputy Mayor, Cllr John O’Leary, representing Waterford City & County Council. Guests heard from Carol Nairn, Youth Representative from DSI Waterford who gave a special message of thanks to everyone who supports Tour de Munster.
Sean Kelly, who this August will celebrate his 11th year doing the charity cycle, is delighted to celebrate DSI’s 7th year as beneficiary of funds raised. Speaking at the launch Sean said “I am very proud to once again be associated with Tour de Munster and its beneficiaries, the members of the Munster branches of Down Syndrome Ireland. Year in, year out, this is such an enjoyable and varied event, tailored around the Tour’s participants which is so important.”
Tour de Munster organiser Paul Sheridan established the popular cycle in 2001, which has had a life changing impact on the lives of countless people through its fundraising efforts; and since its inception, the cycle has raised over €2 million for its beneficiaries; and for DSI alone, it has raised almost €1.6 million.
Speaking at the launch, which was kindly supported by Lismore Castle Gardens, Paul Sheridan said “The Down Syndrome cause is an extremely worthy beneficiary of the Tour and over the last six years of our partnership we have received a huge amount of support from both DSI and families themselves who benefit from the funds raised. Each time we meet these wonderful children and adults we are reminded of how worthy a cause Down Syndrome is. I would like to thank everyone who has got behind the Tour to date, and it would be great to see the momentum build from this fantastic launch event organised by Sandra Willoughby, Conor Ryan and the Waterford and South Kilkenny branch of DSI. You can’t forget all those cyclists and their own families, who have no direct relationship with DSI, but who put everything they have into the 600km journey around Munster – their dedication doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Paul added “We are also very grateful to the many businesses and organisations who have supported Tour de Munster in so many ways over recent years. We rely on input from these, as well the public, to help us continue to make a real difference for those with Down syndrome and their families. The DSI slogan is “Share the Journey” and a lot of supporters do just that both directly and indirectly.”
Brian Quinn, Group Marketing Manager, Nightline Logistic Group, Tour de Munster’s main sponsor, also spoke during the event: “Nightline is once again honoured to continue our sponsorship the Tour de Munster. As Nightline serves communities large and small all over Ireland, we realise the positive impact the Tour de Munster has on so many people’s lives. We wish all the participants of the Tour the best of luck, and are delighted to be associated with this annual charity cycle.”
The Irish Examiner, Clare.FM, Tipp FM, RedFM and WLR FM are the Official Media Partners of Tour de Munster 2016.
This year’s Tour de Munster begins on Thursday, August 4th in Waterford City and continues over four days around the six counties of Munster until it reaches Cork on Sunday, August 7th.
For route information and the latest news log onto www.tourdemunster.com, find it on Facebook, or follow the Tour on twitter @tourdemunster.
For further information on Down Syndrome Ireland please see www.downsyndrome.ie.