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Former Champion editor remembered on Skyride race

Kim O’Dea with, from left: Terry, Conor and Siobhán Hennessey, John O’Dea, Róisín Roche and Antoin O’Looney, who will be taking part in this Sunday’s Etape Hibernia in aid of ­Carrigoran House. Photograph  by Declan MonaghanAS 2,000 cyclists descend on Ennis this Sunday for the start of the second Skyride Etape Hibernia race, among them will be the family and friends of the late Frank O’Dea, the popular former editor of The Clare Champion.
The group of 18, dubbed ‘Team O’Dea’, have come together to tackle the gruelling 84-mile challenge from Ennis through North Clare and back again in order to raise funds for Carrigoran Day Care Centre.
Dr John O’Dea, son of Frank, explained, “The idea for this arose when a group of us started getting into cycling at the start of the year. Both myself and my colleague Dr Terry Hennessy decided to put a team together, all related through family or friendship, in honour of Frank O’Dea and raise money as a team for Carrigoran. Of course, this is a way of raising not just money for Carrigoran, particularly for their day care facility, which includes services for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, but also raising the profile of the work that they do there. We are all very much in awe of the work of Carrigoran and we are so lucky to have them in our county, they do such wonderful work.”
He urged people to support the fundraising for the worthy cause. “Anybody who remembers Frank and wants to help raise funds for Carrigoran can donate to any of the team cyclists, or directly to Carrigoran.”
The cyclists have been training hard for this weekend’s event, with some even taking on the Etape Caledonian race in Scotland earlier this year.
According to John, he believes Frank would have loved the event. “This is definitely something he would have enjoyed, he would be in his element. He loved to see people getting together, he was very much into organising events to raise money for charity so this would have been right up his street.”
Among the cyclists will be both John and Terry’s wives, Kim and Siobhán, as well as plenty of relatives and friends. John will not be getting on his bike for the race, after being injured during training, although he continues his involvement by acting as the team’s manager. However, he is hopeful the cycle could become an annual event for the team and that he may get his chance to take part next year.
“We have already booked to do the Etape Caledonian next year and I’m really looking forward to getting back on my bike. I missed out on both of the rides this year so I will definitely be doing it next year if I can,” he said.
The second Sky Ride Etape Hibernia cycle event will start at 6.45am on Sunday in the market place. Mayor of Ennis Michael Guilfoyle will be setting the cyclists off on their journey. According to Councillor Guilfoyle, “I am looking forward to welcoming the cyclists to Ennis for the race. This is an event that other counties would love to have and we are privileged to be able to host this here in Clare and to launch the race in Ennis. Events like these help bring people into the town and anything we can do to encourage that has to be supported. I would encourage business people to row in behind this also.”
Ennis Chamber has lent its backing to the race, saying that welcoming the cyclists and showing what’s on offer in Clare will help boost the economy and hopefully attract new and existing visitors back to the county.
“2,000 cyclists have already registered for the race, with many more due to come on the day. The event presents the ideal opportunity for businesses in Ennis and North Clare to showcase what we have to offer to the cyclists and their family for the weekend and indeed for potential return visits,” said a spokeswoman for Ennis Chamber.
“Many cyclists are staying in town for the weekend, which is a great boost to the local economy.  It is hoped the number of participants alone will increase to 5,000 by year five, with a multiple of supporters, family, friends and spectators travelling to our county to watch the race.
“Ennis Chamber would like to encourage businesses to offer some kind of promotion or discount to the cyclists during the weekend. As the Skyride Etape Hibernia takes place from early morning to mid-afternoon, the participants and particularly their families, will have ample time to savour the wonderful experience on offer in the county as many will come from abroad and around the country for the entire weekend. This is a major event for County Clare and a fantastic opportunity to promote the region to an international audience of participants and spectators.”
The hosting of the closed road cycle event will necessitate a number of road closures at the weekend. The race route will start in Ennis, going through Ruan, Corofin, Lemenagh, Ballyvaughan, Fanore, Lahinch, Spanish Point, Kilmaley and returning to Ennis Market Place.
Road closures in Ennis will include Ennis Market Place to the junction with Carmody Street (R458) from 7pm on Saturday to 7pm on Sunday; the R458 Carmody Street from junction with Ennis Market Place to Drumbiggle Road from 6am to 3.30pm; Carmody Street from the junction with Drumbiggle Road along Mill Road (R458) to Maid of Erin Roundabout from 6am to 8am; Cusack Road from Maid of Erin roundabout to Drumcliffe Road (including up to Claureen Roundabout) 6am to 8am; Drumcliffe Road to Ruan Road at Clonteen via Drumcliffe, Larchill, Ballymaguiggan and Templemaley 6am to 9am.
Alternative routes for motorists in Ennis include: access to Ennistymon and Miltown Malbay from north, east or south use R352 to N85;  access via N85 to Ennistymon and Miltown Malbay via N85 to Inagh then R460, R474 to Miltown Malbay; access from Ennistymon and Miltown Malbay to south, east or north use N85, R352; between 6am and 9am, access to/from south, east and west to use N85 ring road.  Access to/from north through Ennis to follow local diversions through town and to avoid old Gort Rd/Ruan Rd and use N18; access to south and west of Ennis to avoid R474 junction with N85 (Ring Rd), Drumbiggle Rd and Market Place. Use R475/R458/R469/R352.
For more details on other road closures in the county and alternative routes during the race, check www.ennistowncouncil.ie or www.etapehibernia.com.

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