From Omagh to Waterford


[16 – 18 August 2013]


Early on the morning of the 16th, an intrepid group of cyclists set out from Omagh on the first leg of the first Edmund Rice Camps Cycle. Led by Paul Hannigan (whose daughter Amy is a leader on the Omagh Camp) and Paul McGrath (a former teacher in CBS, Glen Road, Belfast), the group ranging in age from 52 to 70, cycled to Dublin on Friday, accompanied by their support team in vans. The aim of the cycle was to link the four Camps and raise awareness of the great work of the Edmund Rice Camp Leaders and gather funds to support this work. They received a great welcome from the Dublin Camp leaders, who welcomed them with a BBQ in Joey’s Fairview, and a video show of camp activities.

John Moss, whose daughter Grainne is a leader on the Omagh Camp, flew in from England to join them on Day 2 when they cycled to Kilkenny against a strong headwind. The Kilkenny Camp Leaders had a great spread ready for them when they arrived, and a very enjoyable traditional music session ended a tough day’s cycling.

The group was on the road early on Sunday morning and had a pleasant cycle into Mount Sion, Waterford where they received an enthusiastic welcome from the Waterford Camp Leaders, and enjoyed a great meal supplied by Leaders and their families. Br. Peadar Gleeson welcomed them to Mt. Sion, the home of Edmund Rice and gave them a tour of the Chapel and Museum. Br. Martin O’Flaherty in his capacity as Chair of the National Executive of the Camps, thanked the cyclists and support team for their efforts and great generosity in supporting the camps.

The cycle was remarkable on several counts. The generosity and enthusiasm of the cyclists and support team was quite extraordinary – what began as a proposed cycle trip in the Omagh area developed into a major trip linking all four camps and ending in Mt. Sion where Edmund Rice began his great work. Their careful and detailed planning made the cycle a huge success, which may become an annual event. The welcome provided by the Camp leaders was really impressive, involving a lot of work and preparation, all done with their usual great good humour and generosity. Perhaps the most striking feature of the whole event was the wonderful relationship between the cyclists and the camp leaders, who chatted away to each other like old friends.  The Camp Leaders were so grateful to the cycling group for taking on a difficult trip to raise funds to support their work – as one of them remarked: “Imagine, they did all that long cycle to help us!” The cyclists were really impressed with the great work of the leaders, which one of them called ‘the best kept secret in Ireland’. As Liam said – ‘this is the Church of the future!”


Our thanks again to the whole group – cyclists, support team and leaders, which made the whole event a real living expression of the Edmund Rice Network.