Incurable and intrepid cyclist, Tommy Sheehy has been raising funds through all of our currency changes over the years.
Through it all, not to mention the blisters and the pain, he has raised tens of thousands for the charity closest to his heart, Enable Ireland.
He has, however gone up a gear or two since 2011. It was then he began his ‘tours’ throughout Europe’s mountainous and most notorious climbs – many of which have been made infamous in the torturous Tour de France.
Back from Croatia, Slovenia and Italy
The Castleisland native, Tralee resident is just back from a tour of Crotia, Slovenia and Italy and the financial windfall from his trials to date has topped the €50,000 peak.
There are people in Castleisland who will try to avoid driving up ‘The Maam’ – as it is known locally – as it’s a tough, unrelenting climb from the bridge at Laccabawn to the summit at Broughane.
I met Tommy there on Tuesday morning and he had done that very climb three times already that morning – just to warm up!
And he put the climb there in the context of his European experiences. “If that climb was in the Tour de France it would be heard of or famous even,” he assured me.
“I choose Enable Ireland because my brother-in-law and good frien, Donal used the services for many years.
“Back then I met Sean Scally, the regional fundraising manager and every year since 2011 we plan out the tours and the fundraising venues.
“We owe a debt of thanks to the proprietors and managers of all the shops who accommodated our fundraising activities over the years.
“All the money raised so far has stayed in Kerry and the funds from the seven tours to date have raised in excess €50,000. A huge and genuine thank you to all who contributed to that sum of money,” said Tommy.
“Back in 2011 I weighed in at 115 kgs and on that particular tour there were two climbs of 1,000 metres plus to complete. I made the summits and I said I would go on the next tour much lighter.
“I have been doing so every year since and have managed through hard training at times to tone down to under 80 kgs.
“The seven tours I have done were varied but the three day trip to Grenoble in the French alps in 2015 was the toughest in terms of climbing – it was savage.
“At this stage I’ve had the opportunity to reach summits on many of the iconic Tour de France climbs such as Mount Ventoux, the Tourmalet, Alpe dHeuz, Col du Bonnette and many others.
“I train hard to build up endurance and I clock up between 15000 to 20,000 kilometers a year and climb as much as I can.
“I use local climbs such as the Maam, Cragg/Glounsharoon and Mount Eagle in Castleisland and ‘The Short Mountain’ between Tralee and Castlemaine.”
Kitty Sheehy – An Inspiration
One of Tommy’s greatest sources of inspiration was his late mother, Kitty Sheehy.
“Anyone who ever knew or met her will testify that she was a strong and witty character. She supported me throughout every tour and helped enormously with fundraising. I learned a lot from Kitty.
“She collected for local causes throughout her life and she had a great focus on whatever she was involved in and a great way about her.
“She could converse with young or old and made people feel the better for meeting and talking to her. She was always good at raising a smile and a laugh from people,” said Tommy.
Most Beautiful Scenery
For the afore mentioned tour of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, Tommy and his colleagues flew to Treviso Airport in Italy and embarked on a three-hour coach journey to Rovinj in Croatia.
From there they began their cycle across the three countries and some of Europe’s most beautiful scenery.
Over the five days they packed in an accumulation of 646 Kms in distance and climbs totaling 7857 metres.
“There were no iconic climbs like those in the ‘Grand Tours’ and many of the climbs were short between four to eight kilometres but there were steep sections of 14 to 16% gradients thrown in to test the fittest of legs,” said Tommy.
Looking Forward to Autumn Tour
“There were 18 cyclists in total in the ‘Cycling Safaris’ group with the bulk of them coming from the Kilmacud Crokes GAA Club. The banter was lively and no one escaped the slagging. We finished our tour back in Treviso and, after a celebratory dinner that night, we made our way back home.
“The trip was successful and I am looking forward to another tour in late September /early October where I will have the challenge of touring in Spain from Seville to Malaga over six days and a distance 801 kilometres – including some magnificent climbing of 3,000 metres plus per day.”
To ‘enable’ Tommy engage in the time consuming charity fundraising work and in the hours of training necessary to see it through, he duly acknowledges the contribution of his family.
“I couldn’t do it without the support of my wife, Maura and our children: Rory, Tommy, Karl, Aoife, Danny, Orla and Molly,” said Tommy in conclusion.
If you’d like to know more about Tommy Sheehy’s favourite Charity simply Click on the link here: http://www.enableireland.ie
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