Straddling the only peninsula in Ireland to be shared by two counties, the Ring of Beara Cycle takes place this summer but it is already sold out.
A total of 3,500 have signed up for the event on the last Saturday in May. With supporters in toe, numbers on the Cork-Kerry peninsula that weekend will at least double that number.
The man behind the event is surprised at its appeal.
Kenmare’s Mickey Ned O’Sullivan, an All-Ireland winning captain in 1975 and a former manager of Kerry and Limerick, is a guidance counsellor with two schools in Co Cork.
Three years ago, an offshoot of Kenmare Chamber of Commerce approached him to think up an idea for an event to help boost the town.
A Ring of Beara cycle event was an obvious choice and Killarney-based management company Elite Events was drafted in.
“It has been beyond our wildest dreams,” said Mr O’Sullivan. “Last year we capped it at 2,000 and it sold out; for 2016 we said 3,500 and once again we have a waiting list.”
The Beara cycle will stay at 3,500. “We are not going beyond that. The whole thing is a reflection of the co-operation of the people of the Beara Peninsula,” he said. Cork villages and towns such as Allihies, Eyries, Castletownbere, and Glengarriff warmly embraced it and 350 volunteers offered assistance.
“The whole landscape of the Beara is incredible. The route hugs the wild Atlantic Way for much of it. Not just has the cycle taken off but it is helping to brand the Beara peninsula,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
A purple signature jersey was voluntarily designed by graphic designer Eamonn O’Sullivan, Mickey Ned’s son, for participants on the 140km or 110km routes.
Not even one metre of the Ring of Beara overlaps the neighbouring 180km Ring of Kerry cycle route.
“This is a different route. It was not conceived as a charity event. It’s about an enjoyable day out but at the same time exposing the Beara to new people,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
The immediate economic benefit to the Beara peninsula last year was €1.5m. Over €30,000 was raised for the two charities designated to receive any profits for three years — Cancer Connect, the cancer bus taking people in Beara for treatment to CUH and Southwest Counselling.
These will benefit again in 2016.
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