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Action man: How Enda Kenny may be the fittest Taoiseach ever

The 61-year-old has climbed Kilimanjaro, cycled the Ring of Kerry, plays golf, and did a 100km cycle for charity this bank holiday weekend. Phew.

Enda Kenny in action during an Oireachtas match in 2003. Hardcore.
Enda Kenny in action during an Oireachtas match in 2003. Hardcore.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

POLITICS DOESN’T EXACTLY lend itself to healthy lifestyles.

It only takes a quick glance at the Dáil chamber to see that unsocial hours, eating on the run, and attending lots of social events mean exercise can be one of the first things to go out the window once someone gets elected to office.

Enda Kenny seems to be one of the few politicians in the current Dáil quietly bucking the trend.  This bank holiday weekend, he took part in a 100 kilometre cycle in his native Mayo to raise funds for breast cancer research. What was unusual about it was that it wasn’t that unusual – he doesn’t talk about it but he regularly cycles, hikes, golfs and walks (and is it ageist to point out that he’s 61 years old? Possibly).

This isn’t a new thing – check out his early moves on a GAA pitch in this profile RTE did of the Taoiseach last year. But given the usual health profiles of Taoisigh, it’s fairly impressive.

It’s somewhat of an understatement to say previous Taoisigh didn’t have a great record with sport. Brian Cowen had his golf, while Bertie Ahern was more of a spectator than a participant. Kenny’s biggest competition for the title comes from Jack Lynch, who served as Taoiseach between 1966 and 1973 and played both hurling and Gaelic football for Cork at inter-county level.

Here’s a run-down of what Enda has done lately:

1. He has climbed Croagh Patrick more than 100 times

The exact number of times has been lost in the sands of time, but the government press office confirmed that the Taoiseach has indeed climbed The Reek at least 100 times, most recently just over a week ago when he was accompanied by Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni (for part of the way at least: Trap had to go to a press conference before he reached the top). There are rumours that he’s even done it barefoot at least once. Hardcore.

2. He did a 100km cycle for charity around Mayo on Saturday

(Photo: Royal Theatre Castlebar)

The Mayo Pink Ribon cycle was a 100km cycle in aid of breast cancer research which kicked off in Castlebar on Saturday. No word on what the Taoiseach’s time was in the fairly gruelling cycling.

3. He has climbed Kilimanjaro

(Screengrab via RTE player)

In September 2003, Enda Kenny climbed Kilimanjaro in aid of three Mayo charities along with eight of his friends. The notoriously tough mountain typically takes around seven days to ascend.

4. He’s President for Life of the Islandeady GAA club

(Screengrab via RTE player)

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Enda Kenny lined out for his local club near Castlebar for many years and won a county championship before turning to managing and coaching the team. His family has some form: his father, who was also a TD, won an all-Ireland medal with Mayo in 1936.

5. He plays golf

(Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire)

The Taoiseach has a handicap of between 12 and 14 – and last July he proved he could play under pressure when he parred six holes along with his partner Rory McIlroy in a charity golf game (non-golf fans: that’s not bad at all).

6. He regularly does the Ring of Kerry cycle

(Photo: Fine Gael/Flickr)

Don’t let the yellow shades and Tony the Tiger-esque helmet distract you: the Ring of Kerry cycle is tough. The 112 mile cycle is a major fundraising event held every year for Kerry-based charities.

Interesting nugget, fact-fans: Kenny invited the tough-talking mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel to take part in the cycle when he met him in the US on Patrick’s Day. Emanuel has said he’s committed to doing it.

Previously: Going up – Enda Kenny and Giovanni Trapattoni take on Croagh Patrick >

About the author:

Christine Bohan

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