MADE FOR TWO: Killarney Cycling Club is launching a new initiative at St Columbanus Community Hospital, Killarney, which helps older and immobile residents of the town to regain the experience of being out on a bike and to gain better access to the delights of Killarney. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

By Michelle Crean

A local cycling club is the first in the country to become involved in a new initiative to help older and immobile residents gain better access to Killarney town.

Killarney Cycling Club has become involved in international movement ‘Cycling Without Age’ which was founded in Holland in 2012 and has now spread to 47 countries world-wide. Under the scheme, a pilot cycles with two passengers on a three-wheeled, electric-assisted ‘trishaw’.
“We always considered ourselves to be a very inclusive club and ‘Cycling Without Age’ is an extension of this belief,” Mark Murphy, Chairman of Killarney Cycling Club, said.

“Our membership ranges from Rás Tailteann riders to easy-going leisure cyclists, and from under-10s to over-70s. We also have a mentoring programme which helps adults get back into cycling and gives them the confidence and skills to ride with club groups. ‘Cycling Without Age’ is a natural extension of this ethos; as we get older and lose our ability to manage on two wheels, it is great that we have a means of still feeling the wind in our hair. With a large proportion of older people in the town, and the National Park at our doorstep, the scheme seemed ideal for Killarney.”

Mark went on to stress that it is a collaborative project and wouldn’t have been possible without the enthusiastic backing of the Kerry County Council, the HSE and Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce.

“Kerry County Council adopted its Age Friendly Strategy in 2018 with one of the key aims being to have locally appropriate infrastructure to ensure people can fully participate in their communities as they age,” Cathaoirleach of Killarney Municipal District Cllr Michael Gleeson said.

“Initiatives such as this are key elements of delivering on this strategy.”

Máire Flynn who is Director of Nursing at Killarney Community Hospitals, including St Columbanus, said that she was delighted to have St Columbanus involved in the project and was glad that the HSE was able to contribute to it through its, Community and Voluntary Supports programme.

“We envisage that it will greatly benefit some of our residents and contribute to the work we do to help keep them active and socially engaged.”

Mark Murphy explained that those who had spearheaded the project in the club, including Ann Sheehan, Tom Daly and Declan O’Callaghan would be passing on the training they have received to other pilot volunteers as they are coming forward.

There are now 31 trishaws operating in Ireland and this is the first to be operated by a cycling club. Killarney Cycling Clubs hopes it will serve as a model for other clubs to follow.
For further information see www.cyclingwithoutage.ie.