WHEN Pat Barry vowed to undertake a 700km marathon cycle ride from London to Cork, there were a few doubters.
The 44-year-old, from Killeagh in East Cork, planned to complete the trek in six days, to raise funds for Marymount, where his father passed away a year ago.
But his younger brother, Tom, was among those who wondered if he had thought it through!
“When Pat told me what he was thinking of doing, I said to him ‘You’ll never go through with it!’” recalled Tom.
However, Pat had indeed set his heart on the journey from Buckingham Palace to his native county in Ireland, and Tom was one of six cyclists who cycled to Rosslare to meet him from the ferry, accompanying him home to Killeagh for a rapturous welcome.
Tom adds: “When I knew he was serious and getting real about cycling 700km, I thought, I’d better get going too and do some training!
“I began doing 150km-160km cycles over six or seven weeks.
“I’d only ever done 100km. Lorraine, my wife, and our three kids, Nadine, Adam and Sadhbh, were delighted with me!”
The brothers were only too happy to remember their dad, Tom Barry, in a very unique, positive way.
He had died aged 73 in Marymount on May 12 last year.
Both Pat and Tom were in awe of the dedication and level of individual care offered at the hospice, where the patients’ wishes are catered for outside of their illness.
“The minute you walk into reception, where you are greeted by name, it makes the experience very personal,” says Tom.
“Dad loved all the staff at Marymount. It was like a home from home for him. You don’t realise how fantastic the hospice is until you are in the situation yourself.”
Pat, supported by his family and friends, was intent on honouring his dad, who passed away from bowel cancer.
He said: “The deterioration of a loved one is the most difficult and heart-wrenching thing a person will ever go through.
“While my family were going through this most difficult period, the staff at Marymount hospice held our hand every step of the way.
“I cannot express in words what Marymount did to help, not only my father, but our whole family.”
Tom Barry had five children — Pat, Lisa, Thomas (Tucker), Brian (Blondie), and Brendan, and 12 grandchildren.
“I decided to undertake a 700km cycle from London to Cork over six days from May 7 to May 12, in an effort to raise funds for Marymount hospice,” says Pat, who works in the English capital.
“Marymount needs to raise €3.5 million each year through fund-raising initiatives in order to sustain its current level of service provisions.”
The Barry brothers were joined by more than 20 cyclists, who cycled to Marymount on Sunday, May 12th, Tom Barry’s first anniversary, to present a cheque, reaching a target of €10,000.
“Your donation, however big or small, makes a real difference to this special place,” says Pat.
“I want to thank everyone for helping Marymount to help people in their time of need.”
Local cyclists, supporting Pat on his epic journey, made up a band of brothers, travelling the one road to help a cause dear to all their hearts.
Pat recalls: “I was met in Rosslare by my brother, Tom, and local lads, Mark Fox, Alan Curran, Brian O’Keefe, James Fogarty and Brian Landers.
“We had another six cyclists join us in Dungarvan.
“And then more than 20 cyclists came with us to present the cheque to Marymount.”
It was a very different occasion to when Pat was visiting his dad in Marymount.
“Dad was sick for a while before discovering that he had bowel cancer. It progressed rapidly over 18 months,” says Pat, who is married to Maria. Their daughter, Shannon, is 23, and son, Ryan, is 12.
“Dad was in Marymount for three weeks in all, and he received the best care there,” says Pat.
Pat experienced the dedication and kindness of all the staff there, from the medical team to the catering staff to the 240 volunteers, who give freely of their time. He decided to do his part to help continue the level of expert care at the hospice.
“I was always cycling, it is a hobby of mine,” says Pat.
“I got it into my head to do a long-distance cycle to raise funds for Marymount.”
All hands were on deck on both sides of the Irish Sea.
“My brothers and my sister helped organise things from this side,” says Pat. “Maria helped me organise the route and accommodation bookings along the way.”
What was the journey like from Buckingham Palace to The Old Thatch grounds in his home town of Killeagh?
“I had done a good bit of training all along on the road bike,” says Pat.
“The weather was pretty bad in the UK on Thursday and Friday,” adds Pat, who works as a quantity surveyor in Bromley, London for Q.S Construction. “Conditions weren’t the best.”
But he had the best support from beginning to end.
“I got the time off work to do the cycle and one of my colleagues, Cillian Crowe, cycled with me for two days.
“One of our directors from work drove alongside us for one day as support.”
Mum, Ann, was at the finish line to greet her boys.
“I am so proud of them,” she says. “It was a very emotional day.”
Marymount is proud of the boys’ mammoth efforts, which raised €10,000.
“We are absolutely delighted,” said Mary Morrish, fund-raising officer at Marymount.
“The event took lots of hard work and lots of planning,.
“We rely on the generosity of the people of Cork to ensure our continued level of service. The support that we get from them is always fantastic.
“And we’d like to thank them for that and to thank the cyclists from Killeagh for their fund-raising efforts for Marymount.”
No doubt, Tom Barry would be very proud of his sons as well.
“He’d say; ‘What are ye doing that for!’” says Tom.
The lads know well what their mission was.
“Marymount hospice provided a source of support and comfort for us when we needed it most.”
To organise an event or donate see: email@example.com
Marymount University Hospital is a health-care facility which provides two distinct services.
The Elderly Care Facility provides respite care, intermediate palliative care and continuing care for older people.
Marymount Hospice provides care to patients with progressive illness, both cancer and non-cancer, when pain or other symptoms need addressing.
Support is offered to families suffering a loss or who are bereaved.
Marymount is a designated Specialist Care Centre for the Cork/Kerry region, serving a population of approximately 600,000 people.
Marymount University Hospital, Curraheen, Cork.