Once again, Killarney Camera Club took on the ambitious task of trying to photograph as many as possible of the 11,000 participants of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle 2016. This has probably become the biggest one day charity fundraising event in Munster. As always, the Killarney Camera Club members enthusiastically played their part, to help make this another spectacular event. Check out the photo gallery here!
Last year’s cycle was a phenomenal success, but the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle Committee surpassed themselves this year, and this year’s cycle turned out to be, without doubt, the best. Cyclists descended upon Killarney from early on Friday to take part in Ireland’s biggest one-day charity cycle. A grand total of 42 charities will benefit as a result of all the hard work, and the people who need it most will benefit. To date, €10.6 million is raised.
Cyclists, including our own members, Nicholas Tarrant and Pat O’Shea had been hitting the road from after 5 o’clock to gather at the Start Line in Mission Road for their long arduous journey. They collected their bicycle tags from the Organizers’ Office in New Street Car Park from 5.00 am onward and from 6.00 am the cycle started in waves. Wearing the Ring of Kerry Jersey, The British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott headed off around 8.00 am and shortly afterwards, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. hit the road around 8.15 am, also wearing the Ring of Kerry Jersey.
People from all over the world gathered at the Start Line to commence the 33rd Annual Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle. The weather dawned dull and overcast, and lots of umbrellas around, typical weather for Killarney, but with a promise of blue skies in the distance, the weather did not dampen the spirits. Cathal Walsh, the face of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle, talked to people from all over the world , Canada, Australia, Dubai, Vietnam, France, all the European countries, 32 counties of Ireland, and ‘places that he has even forgotten the name of’. He was at the start line from 5.15 and advised everybody to “take it easy, and that it is not a race, there is no medal for coming first, so enjoy the scenery and most of all, to come home safe”.
The Bishop of Kerry, Bishop Raymond Browne and Mick Galwey, were there at the Start Line seeing off the cyclists and wishing them well. Mick won an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with the Kerry Gaelic football team in 1986, as a 19-year-old, before turning to rugby union. He is thus the only winner of an “All-Ireland” in both rugby union and football. Thanks to our dedicated club member, Christopher Fitzgerald for the early start to capture these great moments. Christopher said he was blown away by the determination and commitment of the participants and the atmosphere at the Start Line was ‘electric’ and a fantastic experience.
The early morning rain quickly cleared to blue skies, and they were blessed with beautiful sunshine as they went along the Ring of Kerry (ROK) Cycle Route, which is known throughout the world for its breathtaking scenery. The route travels along quiet country roads and passes through all the main towns and villages Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Caherciveen, Sneem, Kenmare and Molls Gap along the way. They returned to Killarney, tired and weary, but with the satisfaction of major achievement. There were 2 food stops sponsored by LIDL – one in Caherciveen and one in Kenmare. There was also food and water available along the route and Nature Valley supplied free Nature Valley Bars at many of the stops. Now in its 33rd year, the cyclists completed 112 miles, and hopefully they enjoyed and appreciated the spectacular views and the variety of scenery along the route.
On their return to the finish Line, they were greeted by the cheers of family, friends and onlookers welcoming them back and congratulating them on a terrific performance. We, the photographers of Killarney Camera Club, were lucky to be there for their moment of triumph and capture the smiles, cheers and looks of sheer joy when they finally crossed the finish line. The atmosphere was euphoric as we see the hugs and kisses from children, wives, mothers, family members and friends.
Having made their way to the New Street Car Park, where they were greeted by cheers and “Well done” and “Ye made it” they were presented with their Certificate of Achievement and ‘sign home’. Here, they enjoyed a well earned cuppa and refreshments, before they joined the huge throng in the car-park to enjoy the music and entertainment. Some made their way to the podium to have photos taken with family and friends and proudly display their Certificate of Achievement. For some it was a struggle, but for all, it was rewarding. The after party was a spectacular event that entertained both the cyclists and all their family and friends who had come to support them. The camaraderie was a pleasure to behold as they revel in the achievements and enjoyed the great party atmosphere. Everybody has a story. Having rested their weary bones and shared their experience with fellow cyclists, they wandered though the various tents, and enjoyed the huge array of sponsored foods and drinks on offer. Music filled the air as participants and their friends relaxed in the glorious afternoon sunshine – a perfect ending to a perfect day.
This is a completely voluntary managed and operated event and without the volunteers it would not be possible, and they were incredible. Over 1,000 helped out with the various tasks that ranged from feeding the hungry participants at the food stations to the cycle marshals, who completed the ring to aid anybody in trouble. A huge team of medics gave up their time and were on hand to help anyone who needed assistance. Anyone with cuts, blisters or cramps made their way to the many Ambulances and First Aid stations nearby.
On behalf of the Killarney Camera Club, I would like to congratulate the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle Committee, who once again, hosted another event to be proud of. My personal thanks go to the enthusiastic team of members of Killarney Camera Club who worked away happily shooting, many for hours on end – I think we had the biggest team ever of 19 members out for this year’s event. Many thanks to our own webmaster Donal Lyne, who put these images online for free download.