Cycling the Greenway at 70

Maeve Brady cycled the Great Western Greenway in Co Mayo for her 70th birthday last year

“There were a few things I wanted to do for my big birthday: go to Inishbofin, spend a day on Lough Corrib, and cycle the Co Mayo Greenway cycle route. So I rustled up my relations in the west of Ireland and three generations of family members took part.

“I had cycled in my childhood and, in my work in the community, I had promoted a cycling group in the 1990s . The group cycled the Co-operation North Belfast- Dublin maracycle. I also cycled a part of that. So, I find it quite natural to cycle even though I hadn’t practised very much.

“They say cycling is good for the heart and reduces the likelihood of a heart attack by 50 per cent. That made me particularly interested in cycling, having had a heart attack several years ago, but I didn’t find the route in any way onerous. I loved the sense of exhilaration, freedom and wellbeing.

"But the wonderful thing really about the Greenway cycle is it's a great family event. Cycling with three generations, we could all take it at our own pace. We also had family members in a car who connected with us at various points to check on us, and we all stopped for lunch and coffees along the way.

“The landscape was stunning. The rhododendron was in full bloom and the gorse was aflame the whole way. The cuckoo was calling. I also had a wonderful conversation on the stretch between Mulranny and Newport with my grandnephew from Westport, Cormac O’Farrell (9), which he initiated, about the importance of talking to your grandparents. A cycle like this really bridges the generations.

“I walk every day to keep fit, but cycling has one up on walking, with the great sense of sailing along and the liberation you feel while you’re imbibing the fresh air, toning your muscles, and honing your co-ordination skills. For my next birthday, I’d like to island-hop around the coast of Ireland, and yes, I would bring a bike if possible.”

In conversation with Meadhbh McHugh