Four Irish students, who all attended De La Salle College in Waterford have begun a 4000-mile charity cycle which will take them all the way to the Gaza Strip.  

Eoghan Quinn (21), John Maher (30), Ronan Sheehan (21) and Gearóid Ó Cuinn (29) make up the ‘Pathways to Palestine’ quartet which began their epic trip on Monday, June 22nd.

Support for their trip has been widespread, with Oireacthas members and the Scottish Parliament officially recognising the heroic trek they embarked upon last Monday.

The idea for the trip (which will take them through 14 countries) first arose when the four were enjoying a quiet drink at Geoff’s last year following the collapse of the economy in Gaza.

Eoghan Quinn said that Gaza’s medical infrastructure has been “crippled by the two-year-long siege” which has led to widespread malnutrition and many preventable deaths.

“We are working with the healthcare charity ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’ – MAP – to try in some small way to alleviate the situation,” he added.

“As preparation for the trip, we have already completed the Scottish and Irish legs of the journey which provided a chance to test our fitness and equipment.”

They were received by Mayor John Halligan at the conclusion of their Irish leg, which saw the four cycle from Belfast to Waterford via Derry, Sligo, Galway and Limerick to name but four stops along the way.

The Irish and Scottish leg was completed ahead of the ‘continental leg’ which shall see the cyclists wheel through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria and Jordan.

Should all go to plan, they’ll arrive in Israel (Gaza) on July 26th, 40 days after their 100-mile-a-day journey began.

“We have little cycling experience so we are wondering how we will go when we have to get over  the foothills of the Alps; across the deserts of Syria; through the lowest point on the planet, before finishing in Gaza!” added Eoghan.

Ronan Sheehan said: “We’ve had fantastic support in our home town of Waterford, and we’ve been fortunate to receive help from local businesses who practically funded our support vehicle, which we will donate to the hospital when we reach Gaza.”

Via their ‘phlog’ (a new type of blogging, the boffins have informed us), the boys will use GPS technology to ‘phonecast’ every rotated chain of their charity cycle, allowing browsers to trace their progress online.

“We have a lot more money to raise and we’re also interested in twinning Waterford based groups with their equivalent in Gaza and anyone interested should definitely contact us, all suggestions will be considered,” Ronan continued.

Best of luck to all four on what should prove a life-enhancing trail across Europe and the Middle East.