Kayaking Kevin raises €1,200 for Skerries RNLI in solo lap of Ireland

Lifeboats News Release

Sea swimmer and experienced kayaker Kevin O’Sullivan has presented Skerries RNLI with a donation of €1,200 from monies raised while kayaking solo around the island of Ireland

Kevin O’Sullivan using his paddle to pass the “Bag of Swag” while maintaining 2 metres social distancing

RNLI/Gerry Canning

Kevin O’Sullivan using his paddle to pass the “Bag of Swag” while maintaining 2 metres social distancing

A three year venture which started in 2016 was spurred by Kevin’s love of kayaking: ‘Having been kayaking since 1979, I had bumped into several intrepid individuals who had operated at their edge whilst sat in one of these most versatile of vessels, from skating down Atlantic rollers to negotiating alpine cascades, every one of them sought to challenge themselves to a greater or lesser degree. For me though, after over 35 years of kayaking, looming large in front of me was my own personal edge. I had decided to embark on a solo circumnavigation of the island of Ireland in late 2016.

‘I had been operating as a volunteer kayak instructor with Skerries Sea Scouts for seven years. Being inspired by the courage of the many junior paddlers within their ranks, I decided it was high time I ventured outside my own comfort zone as this mission materialised out of the faintest whisper of a long held dream I had thought about for years.’

During the planning of the trip, Kevin said he was aware of the work done by volunteers at his local RNLI station in Skerries, and Medicins Sans Frontiers in the Mediterranean: ‘I decided to put a charity element to my venture. Monies raised were split down the middle and shared. My local involvement with The Frosties, a year-round sea swim group, gave me first-hand knowledge of the very critical service the RNLI offers to all water users. We have availed of their service on a few occasions. I am not alone in complimenting their non-judgemental approach to any rescue they carry out. It is wonderful to give something back to this great organisation.’

Kevin’s circumnavigation was all the more remarkable in that he achieved it in his spare time committing to the adventure for almost three years.

‘Due to summer leave limitations with my employer, Aer Lingus, I couldn’t manage to take enough leave during the typical circumnavigation window so instead I opted for the piecemeal approach. I would kayak a stretch over a few days, camping as I went, depositing my kayak with a helpful soul, whilst returning home to family and work for a period. When the next favourable weather window opened coincident with my time off work, I would return to my boat continuing along the coast, all the while eating away at the total distance of 1,750 km to put me back into Skerries where I started.’

First circumnavigated in 1978 by a three man team, around 100 have completed the trip mostly in small groups.

‘Only 25 of these have been solo. Mick O’Meara, from Waterford, holds the record at 23 days, and was my own personal inspiration for the trip. Due to my propensity to sea sickness I wasn’t sure I could stomach the challenge. Mick kept my spirits high with endless encouragement as I faced the external challenge of facing the ocean on my own, whilst carrying my own internal challenge of Mal de mer. Thankfully I was graced with good weather, great support and my body held out so that after three summers my kayak found itself being slid back onto its rack after a 903 day absence . My total paddling days numbered 49 with a similar number of commuting days in between.

I camped, B&B’ed, was put-up by strangers, slept in Adventure Centres, friends houses and hostels. I used planes, trains and automobiles to get to and from the remotest corners of this island to complete my paddling project. Once in fact, I walked two and a half kilometres on the Hook peninsula to get to my B&B from the beach I landed on, back in November 2017. The proprietor, who very kindly reopened his B&B for me, stood shocked when I rolled my 18’ long kayak up his driveway rather than atop my car.’

Gerry Canning, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for Skerries RNLI commended Kevin for his fundraising efforts on behalf of the station: ‘This was a phenomenal effort with an amazing amount raised for Skerries RNLI and we want to say a huge thank you to Kevin. With so many fundraising events cancelled this year, donations like this are even more crucial. We can really feel Kevin’s pride for what he has achieved and his enthusiasm for helping the charities he donated to. These funds are very much appreciated by all here at Skerries and will help us to continue to save lives at sea.’

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Gerry Canning, Skerries RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 087 988 4965 or email [email protected] or Nuala McAloon, RNLI Ireland Media Officer on 087 648 3547 or email [email protected] or Niamh Stephenson, RNLI Ireland Media Manager on 087 1254 124 or [email protected]

Kevin O’Sullivan covering the last few metres of his round Ireland solo circumnavigation.

Mick Feeney Photos

Kevin O’Sullivan covering the last few metres of his round Ireland solo circumnavigation.

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