22 June 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
The four day ‘Tour de Munster’ charity cycle, which was launched by cycling legend Sean Kelly and celebrity guest Aoibhín Garrihy in the beautiful grounds of Bunratty Castle takes place from Thursday 10th to Sunday 13th 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 and individual beneficiaries.
This is the 8th successive year that the national charity has been the beneficiary of the popular cycle. A new addition to this year’s Tour de Munster is the option for cyclists to select their own beneficiary and raise funds and awareness for it. Fundraising can include personal sponsorship, but also commercial sponsorship whereby a sponsor logo placement will accompany a donation attracted by that participant.
The official launch event was attended by over 160 invited guests, including members from the various Munster branches of DSI and families supported by the charity, tour sponsors, celebrity guests and many of the cyclists taking part this year.
The 2016 cycle raised €285,655 for the charity, resulting in over €1.9 million raised for DSI alone. Since its inception in 2001, Tour de Munster has raised over €2.4 million for its beneficiaries. 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.
Sean Kelly, who this August will celebrate his 12th year supporting the charity cycle, is delighted to celebrate DSI’s 8th year as beneficiary of funds raised. Speaking at the launch Sean said, “I am honored to once again be associated with Tour de Munster and its beneficiaries, the members of the Munster branches of Down Syndrome Ireland and individual beneficiaries. Each year from beginning to end the whole Tour de Munster is such an enjoyable and varied event. It is fantastic to meet everyone involved, especially the individuals benefitting from the funds raised and to watch the support for the tour grow year upon year.
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. Speaking at the launch, Paul Sheridan said, “To see the 17th annual Tour de Munster launch is just fantastic. The continued support we receive year in, year out, from all involved across Munster is what makes the tour so special. Down Syndrome Ireland is such a worthy beneficiary of the tour and we are thrilled to have them on board for an eight year, raising funds and vital awareness regarding the challenges faced by those affected with Down syndrome and their families. The new aspect of this years tour to allow people to raise money for an individual charity of their choice is a way of letting some more worthy charities leverage from the continued success of Tour de Munster.
Paul continued, “We are very grateful to the many businesses and organisations who have supported Tour de Munster. We rely on input from these, as well the public, to help us continue to make a real difference. I would like to thank everyone involved in tonight’s launch organised by Catherine O’Gorman, Carmel O’Brien, John O’Brien, Siobhan McSweeney and Kieran Dooley. You can’t forget all those cyclists and their own families who put everything they have into the 600km journey around Munster – their dedication doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Phil Keohane, branch liaison officer stated, “I’m delighted and honoured to be a part of such an amazing event. You can see year on year that the cyclists involved in the Tour de Munster are truly committed to the partnership between the Tour de Munster and Down Syndrome Ireland Munster branches. As a proud parent of a young boy with Down Syndrome I am truly grateful to each and every cyclist that takes part for one year or for fourteen years. The people that take part in the Tour de Munster are amazing people who give their time to raise vital funds for the Munster branches and also become champions of Down Syndrome. Five years ago, I stood on St. Patrick’s hill after just coming out of hospital with my beautiful little boy who had been very ill and 150 cyclists gave everything they had to get up that hill and as each of them past I knew I was not alone, these people cared about my little boy and my family. It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of that and long may the partnership continue.”