By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent/Evening Herald/Sunday Independent
A challenging cycle from The North Poll to the South Poll is to be, undertaken in June to raise funds and awareness for the Irish Association of Suicidology (IAS). The 'polar' expedition by the Mayo Wheelers Club, from the North Poll Pub in Lifford, Co. Donegal to the South Poll Pub in Anascaul, Co. Kerry, will cover 300 miles over a three day period.
Cycling clubs along the route are to be drafted in to help with the logistics and the fundraising effort. The project has the backing of Fine Gael Leader, Mr. Enda Kenny, Mayo senior football team Manger, Mr. John Maughan, and the Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Mr. Eddie Staunton.
Final details of the route have yet to be arranged but it is expected that up to 30 cyclists will take part in the event on June 3, 4 and 5 on the, bank holiday weekend. Each of the participants will be expected to raise 600 Euros each to cover their, expenses. The secretary of the Mayo Wheelers, Mr. Joe McGuire, said he expected a very enthusiastic response from cyclists: "We are delighted to undertake the cycle on behalf of the IAS, who are doing tremendous to promote a greater awareness of suicide and how it is impacting on our society," he said.
"We will be seeking the support of cycling clubs along the route to help us with accommodation, collections and the general organisational aspects of the fund raising cycle."
The Irish Association of Suicidology was founded in 1996 by Dr. John Connolly, the late Dr. Michael Kelleher, and Mr. Dan Neville, T.D, in response to concern about the rising suicide rates in Ireland and the grief and suffering caused to families and communities by these unnecessary deaths. The IAS set out to be a forum for all individuals and voluntary groups, involved in any aspect of suicidology for the exchange of knowledge gained from differing perspectives and experiences. The Department of Health and Children, The Western Health, Board, membership fees and donations fund the organisation.
The IAS is dedicated to disseminating information about suicide and suicide prevention, so that public opinion can respond to the issue in an informed manner and make sure it is not ignored by the statutory authorities dealing with health, education and the environment. Dr. Connolly stated: "Suicide prevention is everybody's responsibility, and, the tide can only be turned by concerted coordinate action by all parts of our society."
Cyclists wishing to take part in the cycle can contact: Brian O'Loughlin, Chairman, Mayo Wheelers on: 087-2425761; Joe McGuire, Secretary, Mayo Wheelers on: 096-8702062 or Gerry Walsh, treasurer, Mayo Wheelers.