Hugh McCarthy will no doubt return to a hero’s welcome in Clara after cycling nearly 3,000km for charity.
Speaking to the Offaly Independent from Tampere in Finland, which he reached last Sunday after leaving his home town on July 29, 30-year-old Hugh said the goodwill he encountered from strangers on the epic cycle is the standout memory he will keep with him.
Though tired, Hugh is clearly still up for a challenge, as he revealed he’s already looking to his next adventure.
Anyone interested in donating to the Make-A-Wish Foundation as part of Hugh’s current challenge however can do so at a fundraising family fun day and monster dog show in Clara soccer field this Saturday, or online at http://www.mycharity.ie/event/hugh_mc_carthys_event.
“I got lost numerous times,” Hugh laughed, detailing his gruelling trip. The journey began with Hugh cycling from Clara to Dublin, before on to Holyhead by ferry.
After travelling to Hull he took a ferry to Rotterdam before cycling through Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and finally Finland, where he met his brother Jefferson.
“In one town in England a guy called Tom Banks went about seven miles out of his way to get me on the right track, before going home and donating €20 online,” Hugh remembered. “It was things like that that made the trip - seeing how genuine people can be, and are.”
Hugh’s cycle across a number of countries would be impressive regardless, but what makes it even more extraordinary is that he’s not an experienced cyclist.
Before beginning to train for his Clara to Finland cycle, Hugh cycled Switzerland during a holiday with his brother in 2006. “The last time I was on a bike before that was in school,” he said.
Agreeing to cycle thousands of kilometres seems unlikely for a non-cyclist, but Hugh explained that it was prompted by him joking last Christmas that with disposable income down he’d cycle to visit his brother in Tampere.
Optimistic even before he set out, Hugh said at the time he expected the cycle to be a lovely way of seeing the countryside. Now finished the cycle he said the surroundings that really stood out for him were in Holland and Sweden.
Holland impressed with its cleanliness and the priority given to cyclists on the road, while Sweden and its terrain that made direct routes impossible began to grate on Hugh’s nerves. “That started to annoy me,” he said, adding that on his last day in Sweden he elected to cycle through the night and up his daily average of 100km to 270km just to reach his final Swedish destination of Stockholm.
On reaching there his spirits were bolstered by more human kindness. Electing not to take that night’s ferry as it was too expensive, workers at the harbour opened their small house at the port to him which provided him with television, a couch and even internet for the night. “They even came in with breakfast for me the next morning,” he said.
On arriving in Tampere a barman in O’Connell’s Irish bar gave him €100 towards his cause, which he said also means a lot.
Coffee mornings and leg waxes have already been held to support Hugh’s fundraising efforts so far, and another one is planned for this Saturday, August 31.
Hugh’s partner Lauren Burns is behind a family fun day and monster dog show that will kick off at Clara soccer pitch at 1.30pm and all have been welcomed to come along on the day.
More information on the day - and Hugh’s cycle - is available at www.facebook.com/HughsCycleFromIrelandToFinland, while direct donations to the cause can be made by visiting http://www.mycharity.ie/event/hugh_mc_carthys_event.