Running home to Ireland from all over the world to end homelessness

How Irish expats can run the distance from where they live now to their hometown in Ireland, while raising funds for homelessness

Aisling Demaison with her husband  Bertrand and their little boys Louis and Pierre in  Annecy France

Aisling Demaison with her husband Bertrand and their little boys Louis and Pierre in Annecy France

 

After working for 10 years as a teacher in a Marist school in Dublin, Aisling Demaison, formerly O’ Malley from Ballina, Co Mayo, took a career break to try a year in France. She has never come back. Ten years later she lives in Annecy in southeastern France with husband Bertrand and their little boys Louis and Pierre. She still works for Marist education, but now across Europe. She says she loves everything about France, but has struggled with not being able “to get home for so long”.

After a year of lockdown my running improved quite a lot, mainly as it was my main source of mental and physical wellbeing. Little did I know that taking part in a virtual marathon back in January 2021, would open a whole new world, that I now know as #runninghome.ie

Running on a beautiful trail in Annecy, my only thought was `if I had the choice, I would run home’ and the idea for runninghome.ias born. Unlike many of those running brainwaves, this one stayed with me even after my run, shower and day of work

The idea for Runninghome.ie, like many moments of clarity that surface when you are out running, came after the second Christmas not being able to get home. Running on a beautiful trail in Annecy, my only thought was “if I had the choice I would run home’” and the idea for runninghome.ias born. Unlike many of those running brainwaves, this one stayed with me even after my run, shower and day of work. So the process of setting up #runninghome.ie began and it was an instant success.

#Runninghome.ie is an initiative for Irish expats to run the distance from where they live now to their hometown in Ireland, while raising funds for homelessness in Ireland. Focus Ireland and The Peter McVerry Trust are the chosen charities. This year-long campaign continues until December 31st 2021, and is as much about solidarity for Irish people who are abroad as it is about creating positive actions for those who needs homes in Ireland.

Since we started on February 1st we have raised almost € 12,000 and have more than 700 runners from around the world. I say “we” because I’m no longer running the campaign on my own. Now there is a committee of eight wonderful Irish expats from around the world who have taken #Runninghome under their wings. In fact that perfectly represents the wonderful solidarity and community spirit that has developed from #Runninghome.

The campaign really took off when Aer Lingus agreed to be our partner and donated flights for our fundraising. Then wonderful Irish businesses such as Irishify and MyIreandbox kindly became sponsors and donated beautiful prizes for all our competitions. Then when Sonia O’ Sullivan and her daughter Sophie joined the team, that was a great boost and they have been an amazing support to the campaign.

Run home to Ireland virtually while raising money for homelessness
Run home to Ireland virtually while raising money for homelessness

The campaign has developed in so many other ways too. We’ve had events for Mother’s Day and St Patrick’s Day and both have helped Irish expats to make connections with family at home while fundraising as we do it. As well as the individual runners and teams in many countries sharing the kilometres home, we have also been joined by lots of GAA teams. This is now a “puck the path” challenge where each GAA team takes on the challenge of #Runninghome and then nominates another GAA team around the world to follow. So much fun and solidarity developing amongst them. This month we have a four-week strength and conditioning program’ed by professional Irish expat coaches, all funds raised go to our charities.

Our Green Runninghome campaign launched on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2021 and a raffle will take place on June 8th - Oceans Day. The best bit is we have also partnered with grownforest.ie to offset all the carbon emissions from the free flights to Ireland Aer Lingus have provided by planting trees in Ireland.We are working hard to make real homes a reality in a greener world.

As runners we depend on nature for the beautiful scenery and moments of escape we get while out running; whether it is a wood trail in France, a beach in Australia, a rocky climb in Gibraltar or a snowy path in Norway, so we owe it to nature to give back a little of what it gives to us

What the green runninghome journey means

As runners we depend on nature for the beautiful scenery and moments of escape we get while out running; whether it is a wood trail in France, a beach in Australia, a rocky climb in Gibraltar or a snowy path in Norway, so we owe it to nature to give back a little of what it gives to us. We know its not easy to be green, but we want to at least try. We’re going to take our runners on our green journey with us. Over the next few months we’ll track our green running journey with tips, highs and lows, successes and failures. It will be an honest outlook on going green for runners with plenty of fun along the way.

It is such an exciting adventure being part of the #Runninghome.ie campaign. Every week brings new runners, more donations, new ideas and all are based on our solidarity as Irish expats, our desire to have a positive impact on homelessness in Ireland and a real genuine and raw longing to get home.

If anyone would like to get involved they can just sign up at runninghome.ie and join the team.

To donate: Idonate.ie/runninghome Video and to sign up as a runner: www.runninghome.ieTo buy raffle tickets:https://www.idonate.ie/raffle/runninghomepetermcverryhttps://www.idonate.ie/raffle/runninghomefocusireland

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/runninghome.ie/Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/854361635352201Twitter https://twitter.com/IeRunninghomeLinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/runninghome/

If you live overseas and would like to share your experience with Irish Times Abroad, email abroad@irishtimes.com with a little information about you and what you do

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