Our Dad and Mum had 10 kids. They dedicated their lives to raising us all and geting us all a good education. Back in 2010 as Dad reached his eighties, He and I planned a road trip together. He wanted to go to the Isle of Man to drive the TT motorbike circuit. It was a dream of his since the motor biking days of his youth. We were to go on the 8th of August. On Tuesday July 13th, Dad got a heart attack in Galway Shopping Centre and died later that day.
Our Dad’s sudden death affected us all. It was a terrible shock for our family, and his passing a great loss. We have all done our best to come to terms with it in our own individual ways. Mine was to take up running. I had never ever run before in my life. I got off the couch, and started by running down my local road for a minute at a time.
My sisters Maeve and Deirdre encouraged me into some good running routines. I ran a 10K race for the RNLI lifeboats and found it very rewarding. After that I ran a few 5K and 10K races pleasantly surprised by my progress. My sister encouraged me to join her at our neighbourhood running club, Brothers Pearse AC. Running with others makes it so much easier so it wasn’t long before I was training for my first half marathon. I was more able to cope with things after running. Running really enabled me to handle Dad’s passing better. Running got me through.That’s just my story. My brothers and sisters have theirs – what’s yours?
I was driving Dad’s old car a lot after he died. It was so reliable and trustworthy. It started every day, rain or shine, frost or snow. Driving it reminded me a lot of Dad. Sometimes that made me blue, sometimes happy. I started thinking about the road trip again and thought, why not? Why not do it anyway? Why not do it in his honour? With the help of many others I have planned, fine-tuned and added to the original plan, and added to it in a way that I hope will make Dad laugh and smile.
Dad was always helping others during his life here. He volunteered with the St. Vincent De Paul for over 30 years. He knew the more disadvantaged areas of Galway and Connemara better than most. This trip will recognise his willingness to help others carry on.
Shortly I will depart Dublin for 13 weeks to drive (solo) to New Delhi, India passing through the following countries on the way: UK, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Peoples Republic of China, Tibet, Nepal… and finally India.
I will run 13 half marathons on the road to Delhi to raise money and awareness of the two charities. One charity is Irish (On the Road again) and one Indian (Child Nutrition Foundation) and they are the start and finish points of my journey. My hope is that in some small way, Dad’s willingness to help others will live on just a little bit longer. This is why I run.
Fergal O’Flaherty, Autumn 2015