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Conor Flanagan with Tina O'Connell and Johnny Casey. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

One last walk with Conor Flanagan

A large crowd is expected in Ennistymon next Sunday for a charity walk in memory of the late Conor Flanagan.
Mr Flanagan, who passed away suddenly in May of last year, was an avid walker and raised tens of thousands of Euro for various different charities through walking and swimming. He was also a recovering addict, and he used his walking as a way to help other people who were struggling to conquer their own demons.
All funds raised from the walk will be used to purchase a defibrillator that will be located in the Clouna area of North Clare.
“Conor, in his life, walked thousands of miles for charity. So many friends reached out to us [after his passing] and said, when we were ready, that they would like to have a walk for him. We are thrilled and delighted to honour Conor in this way,” said Conor’s sister, Ann Marie Flanagan.
“Thinking through the tragedy of the night he died, with Christina his girlfriend and Ryan his son being there with him, waiting for emergency services. The operator who was guiding them through CPR asked was there a defibrillator in the area, and we didn’t know. But it turns out there wasn’t.
“We don’t know whether this would have saved Conor’s life, but if it is there in the future, it might save someone’s life. So we thought that we should combine Conor’s kindness and his constant urge to pay-it-forward in this event.
“He supported so many charities over the years. He supported the Samaritans, Sláinte Care, Hand in Hand, different children’s charities, there were so many. We thought it would be a lovely idea to bring people together to take part in something that Conor himself loved to do.”
Mr Flanagan used walking as a way to tackle difficult situations in his own life, and he shared this experience with many of his friends who joined him.
“Conor by his nature was very benevolent. A couple of things happened that made him become interested in walking. His beloved wife Jackie passed away just three years before his own passing, and I know that he used walking as a wellness tool,” said Ann Marie.
“Conor was a very proud man. He was in recovery and he supported hundreds of people in their recovery, whither from mental health issues or addiction.
“He thought, I’m walking anyway, so I might as well use it to contribute to charities and groups who needed support. So he would walk in organised events, but he would also set himself challenges, choose a charity, and people could contribute when he reached certain milestones.
“So, he might set himself the challenge of walking 500 kilometres over a month. He would share a post online when he had completed the first 100 kilometres and people would contribute.
“He organised the 10K+1 around Ennistymon and he went on then to join the Clare four legged run, he was the main organiser for North-West Clare, and finally he moved on to do marathons and swims.
“A standout memory for all of us is when our beloved cousin Caitríona Lucas died and he walked the Dublin City Marathon a month later in her honour. Walking is how he managed his well-being, he used it to help himself and help others.
“He would walk with people. So many people talked about walking with Conor, and the next thing they knew they were opening up to him and chatting about things. Conor was a great listener, he did a lot of listening when he was walking.”

The Conor Flanagan Memorial walk will take place on Sunday, July 7, at 12 noon. Registration takes place at the Ennistymon Community Centre from 10.30am to 11.45am. Entry fee on the day is €20 for adults while children go free. People can also donate by searching for “ConorFlanaganMemorial” on idonate.

About Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

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