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Dublin: 14°C Thursday 17 June 2021

This Cork man is pushing a buggy 225km from Galway to Howth in memory of his daughter

The man is doing the 225km walk in memory of his daughter.

Eugene O'Leary is walking from Galway to Howth in memory of his daughter.
Eugene O'Leary is walking from Galway to Howth in memory of his daughter.
Image: Eugene O'Leary/Facebook

A 76-YEAR-OLD man is walking with a buggy from Galway to Howth to raise money for Crumlin Children’s Hospital in memory of his daughter who died aged 19. 

Eugene O’Leary will complete the 225-kilometre journey tomorrow at Howth after he arrives at Crumlin Children’s Hospital at around 3pm today. 

O’Leary, who is from Cork but lives in Howth, hopes to raise €2,000 for the hospital, which treated his daughter Helen until she turned 18. 

Having started on 15 August, the date of his daughter’s birthday, O’Leary has traveled across the country in a bid to thank the hospital that did so much for his daughter. 

Born with a congenital heart defect, she had surgery almost immediately. 

“When she was six weeks old she had open heart surgery,” he says. 

Aged five, treatments were failing to help – so the hospital gave Helen a mechanical heart valve. The procedure worked and “she did everything she wanted to do,” O’Leary says. 

From head prefect at her Sutton school to being named pupil of the year, O’Leary says the treatment transformed his daughter’s life. 

Aged 19, Helen passed away after one of her arteries ruptured following treatment – but O’Leary has always remained grateful to Crumlin Children’s Hospital. 

Over the years, O’Leary estimates that he’s raised approximately €100,000 for the hospital. 

After his daughter died, he said he started cycling to raise money for the St Francis Hospice, Raheny. His fundraising efforts took off from there and he’s been raising money for Crumlin ever since. 

“We were never charged one cent,” for his daughter’s care, says O’Leary – now he wants to pay back their help. 

Coast to coast

His journey will take him from the Atlantic to the Irish sea, with Crumlin Hospital staffing waiting to greet O’Leary when he arrives later this afternoon. 

From Loughrea to Ballinasloe and from Athlone to Kinnegad, O’Leary praised the kindness and generosity of the people he encountered as he walked across the country with his buggy. 

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o'leary2 Eugene O'Leary has been documenting his walk on his Facebook page. Source: Eugene O'Leary/Facebook

His target is €2,000, with nearly €800 raised so far as he prepares to arrive at Howth tomorrow. 

While he set out intending to sleep in a tent each night, he’s rarely had to use it – from student accommodation to a farmer’s house, O’Leary has been able to avail of numerous offers of a bed during his walk.

“People are getting more and more generous,” he says. 

O’Leary will finish at Howth tomorrow. 

The only downside, he says, has been the weather. ”The weather has been awful,” O’Leary says, who has had to cope with changeable sunshine and showers during over the last few days. 

The bad weather hasn’t put him off and the 76-year-old has plenty of plans for the future. 

In the next few weeks, O’Leary is off to Spain to do a leg of the Camino de Santiago. 

More information about Eugene’s fundraising and on how to donate can be found here

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