Just after dawn on Saturday morning, June 7, at the arches in front of the Celbridge Manor Hotel, celebrity chef Derry Clarke and Paul Kelly, CEO of Console, two men who have been touched by suicide, released a pair of doves to mark the start of the East West Console Cycle.
The cycle left the hotel at 6.30am and arrived in Galway just after 6pm that evening.
Six months after a triple bypass Mr. Clarke, the owner of Michelin star L’Ecrivan restaurant, lead the 250 cyclists on the 200kms event.
As well as being a fundraiser, the event, which is organised by the Celbridge based charity and other local cycling experts, was intended to raise awareness of the charity’s new helpline, 1800 247 247.
The cycle was joined in Moate by Fionnbar Walsh, father of the late teenager Donal Walsh, who did so much to highlight suicide awareness among young people.
“All funds raised from this cycle will go to ensuring that Console’s services are free and readily accessible, so people in need can get help when they need it most,” said Paul Kelly.
Mr. Kelly was prompted to set up the charity after he lost his sister to suicide. He told participants that the event had “touched him deeply and personally”.
Mr. Clarke’s 16 year old son Andrew died by suicide on New Year’s day 201.
“I found it very tough, especially at the second half stage, but luckily the cycle was really well organised and the bike marshals really got me through,” he explained.
With centres in Galway, Cork, Dublin, Wexford, Limerick, Kerry and Mayo Console offers counselling services as well as the 24-hour helpline support to people in crisis and those bereaved by suicide.