Pedal power to open up new delights

On a bicycle made for two: Killarney Cycling Club member Declan O’Callaghan bringing John Clifford, Killarney and Michael Fitzgerald, Castleisland, both residents at St Columbanus Community Hospital, for a short spin. Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan

A GREAT new initiative has been launched to help older and immobile residents of Killarney to regain the experience of being out on a bike and to gain better access to the delights of the surrounding area.

The Killarney Cycling Club campaign is part of an international movement called Cycling Without Age which was founded in Holland in 2012 and has now spread to 47 countries worldwide. Under the scheme, a ‘pilot’ cycles with two passengers on a three-wheeled, electric-assisted trishaw.

Mark Murphy, Chairman of Killarney Cycling Club, said as many people get older and lose the ability to manage on two wheels, it is great that there is a means of still feeling the wind in their hair.

“With a large proportion of older people in the town and the national park at our doorstep, the scheme seemed ideal for Killarney,” he said.

At the launch of the scheme were, front from left, Eileen O’Donoghue, Killarney Municipal District Officer, St Columbanus Community Hospital residents John Clifford, Killarney and Michael Fitzgerald, Castleisland, and Mark Murphy, Chairman, Killarney Cycling Club, with, at back, Máire Flynn, Director of Nursing at Killarney Community Hospitals, Siobhan Griffin, Kerry County Council Community Development Officer, Declan O’Callaghan, Killarney Cycling Club, Mayor of Killaney, Cllr Michael Gleeson and Tom Daly, Secretary, Killarney Cycling Club

The collaborative project wouldn’t have been possible without the enthusiastic backing of the Kerry County Council, the HSE and Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce.

Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Michael Gleeson said the council adopted its Age Friendly Strategy in 2018 with one of the key aims being to have locally appropriate infrastructure to ensure people can fully participate in their communities as they age. “Initiatives such as this are key elements of delivering on this strategy,” he said.

Killarney Municipal District Officer, Eileen O’Donoghue, said the local authority was delighted to be able to support the project through the Community Enhancement Programme of the Department of Rural and Community Development and she commended Killarney Cycling Club for the delivery of this fantastic initiative for the town.

Máire Flynn, who is Director of Nursing at Killarney Community Hospitals, said the St Columbanus facility would be involved in the project courtesy of the HSE.

“We envisage that it will greatly benefit some of our residents and it will contribute to the work we do to help keep them active and socially engaged,” she said.

The President of Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, Paul Sherry, said his organisation would continue to support Cycling Without Age in Killarney in any way possible as it fits with the agenda of making Killarney as accessible as possible for all.

The trishaw will initially operate from St Columbanus Community Hospital and the club aims to develop the scheme for other nursing homes in the town as more volunteer pilots come forward and get trained.

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