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Galway kayakers are channel hoppers

Two old friends with big roundy birthdays this year wanted to do something to mark their respective milestones – so perhaps a big party, the holiday of a lifetime, a sports car, or a trip to the World Cup?

Nothing as predictable as that – so how about kayaking for about twelve hours across the North Channel from Ireland to Scotland instead? Logical, because you’ve never done it before either.

That’s what Loughrea Garda Sergeant Leo Kiernan has decided to do to mark his half century, joined by his old pal Bob Lacey who is turning 60 – along with Padraic Minnock from Ballycumber and Louise Hurley from Kilchreest, who thankfully is a paramedic by profession just to ensure all make it safely across.

Leo’s actual fiftieth birthday falls today (Thursday) but the tidal experts reckoned this Saturday was the optimum one for a smooth and safe crossing – so that’s the date unless the weather moves it a day or two.

Leo, Padraig and Louise are all members of the same kayaking club in Meelick/Eyrecourt, and Bob is a retired member of the Defence Forces from Athlone who now runs Inny Kayak Club in Ballymahon, Co Longford.

They plan to kayak from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland to Portpatrick in Scotland – a distance of just over 38 kilometres as the crow flies, although tides and tiredness can add at least two kilometres to that, meaning it could take up to twelve hours to make it.

There’s a GoFundMe page for the Charity Kayak, organised Hearts and Hounds – the Hearts a play on the Mater Heart Foundation and the Dogs for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland.

Caption: Set for the test…kayakers Leo Kiernan, Bob Lacey and Padraig Minnock in training last week.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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