The countdown is on to the departure, next Friday, March 23, of the 25th edition of the legendary Galway Cycle.
And as befits the anniversary, this year’s event, run by Maynooth Students for Charity in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland, is set to be bigger and better than ever.
Every year since 1987, a group of students have left NUI Maynooth and made the trip across country from the college to Galway’s Eyre Square on the Friday of the last weekend in March.
They rattle buckets, juggle, sing songs and generally brighten up the city centre all day Saturday, before climbing on their bikes again on Sunday for the return trip.
It’s a 400 km round trip and participants have been in training since before Christmas.
The money raised this year will be used to roll out an early development program across the country which has already been piloted successfully in Kildare.
But it’s a far cry from 1987 when 12 cyclists made their way across the country to raise funds for the ISPCC.
Since then almost €750,000 has been raised for a variety of worthy causes, some of them Galway-based, such as Headstrong’s Jigsaw Project and the National Breast Council Research Institute, based in UCG.
On the evening of Sunday, March 25, at about 5.30pm, 255 cyclists will arrive into the square in Maynooth.
Preparations are already well underway to celebrate their arrival, with bands, a champagne reception and lots of other festivities.
“We’re very very grateful to the people and businesses of Maynooth for their generosity to us over the past 24 years,” Galway Cycle President Donnacha Gayer explained.
“We’re especially delighted that it is the community of Maynooth, in the form of the good people in Brady’s, the local branch of Down Syndrome Ireland and the Mayor of Kildare, Michael Spike Nolan, who have come forward to help us celebrate our 25th anniversary,” he added. “The 23rd, 24th and 25th are going to be a great weekend in aid of a great cause, and we can‘t wait.”