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Cultural trailblazer marks 90th birthday with parachute jump

A Galway cultural trailblazer will chart a course blazing through the skies to celebrate turning 90 years young next month with her first ever skydive.

Lelia Doolan is at pains to insist that her tandem parachute jump on May 6 when she will freefall from 13,000 feet at a speed of 200km per hour is “nothing major at all”.

“I have no fear,” she declares to the Connacht Tribune during a road trip to check out Clonbullogue Airfield Edenderry, Co. Offaly.

“I’m not having second thoughts – first thoughts will do. I’m going to be putting my legs up when we land. I’ll be attached to what I hope is a good big lad. If I break some bones, now that would be stupid. I want to be ready for the party.”

She doesn’t mind heights but did have a few hairy vertigo moments on a viaduct in Fermoy known as The Red Bridge during filming The Clash of the Ash with Fergus Tighe.

“I’d be more fearful in a building that’s terribly high. That high bridge scared the living daylights out of me because it wasn’t a proper bridge. I couldn’t care less about this. It’s nothing at all.”

Her gung-ho attitude hasn’t stopped some of her family trying to dissuade her.

“My sister-in-law thinks I shouldn’t do it. But I told her it’s too late to give up. The die is cast. My brother Paddy in France thinks I should practice jumping off the bed. I told him he’s off his trolly. This is going to be easy.”

She wanted to mark her ninth decade with an event that would twin as a fundraiser. Already over €8,000 has been donated to her chosen charity – Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors Without Borders Ireland (MSF).

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Caption: Lelia Doolan.

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