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Aran Half-Marathon celebrates coming of age – back better than ever after Covid

The first ever Aer Arann Islands’ Half-Marathon in April 2001 lives long in the memory of Marie Mulrooney.

“Oh I remember it well – I struggled through it,” laughs the Carnmore native. “My youngest was just born at the time, I’d say only a few months old. I remember thinking, ‘What am I doing out here?’”

Ms Mulrooney, ground operations manager with Aer Arann, the sponsors of the annual fundraising event, has completed all 20 half-marathons since then.

“I can’t say I ran them all but I got through them and passed the finish line,” she jokes.

The 2020 event was cancelled due to Covid-19 but Marie is looking forward to taking part again this year, the event’s 21st staging on April 21/23.

“The thing about it is it’s not a serious event. You could run, walk, crawl, cycle, anything,” she says.

It was started by Aer Arann employees in 2001, including Dave Gallagher and Al Ó Conneely, who remain on the organising committee.

They’d completed the New York marathon the previous year, and decided to set one up on the largest of the Aran Islands.

For the first five years, money raised went to Crumlin Children’s Hospital in Dublin. For the next 15 years, Temple Street Hospital, also in Dublin, was the beneficiary.

According to Ms Mulrooney, some €100,000 net was raised on average every year, and to date in excess of €2m has been generated by the previous 20 half-marathons.

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