A convicted drug dealer is expected back behind bars tonight after getting temporary release over the weekend to run a 52-mile charity marathon.
Limerick-born Pat Scanlan was granted a temporary 48-hour release on Friday to complete a double marathon from Ballybunion in Co Kerry to Limerick.
The 45-year-old ran 52 miles in seven hours and 55 minutes and expects to raise more than €100,000 for the Chernobyl Children's Project.
Speaking in Limerick today, Scanlon said he wanted to say a big thank you to Justice Minister Michael McDowell for allowing him fulfil his marathon trek.
"I reckon I'm the only person to have ever been granted temporary release for something like this and I would like to thank the Minister for Justice who showed compassion in his heart and allowed me to do this," he said.
A former restaurateur, Pat Scanlan was jailed for seven years in 2000 for possession of €1.3m worth of cannabis.
"I left Limerick in shame five years ago and it was a wonderful feeling to run through my home village of Loughill on Saturday and get such a lovely welcome from people. I was so touched to see how people have forgiven me for the shame I brought to my community and to my family," he said.
Pat's fiancee Christine Lynch was with her long time partner throughout Saturday's run and collected more than €700 along the route.
"Christine has stood by me through all of this. She's my real strength and has visited me three times a week in prison for the past five years, She was a fantastic support on Saturday and collected more than €700 in her bucket alone," said Pat.
A keen runner, Pat Scanlan raised €10,000 for the Chernobyl Childrens project three years ago when he completed a full marathon inside the exercise yard of Limerick prison.
If the Department of Justice had refused his application for temporary release, he was still prepared to complete his double-marathon this weekend by running more than 300 laps of the exercise yard inside the Training Unit at Mountjoy.
After he completed Saturday's 52-mile trek, Pat soaked in an ice cold bath in Pery's Hotel for 30 minutes in order to get his body temperature back to normal. He then enjoyed a four-course Chinese dinner with his supporters in Limerick's Jasmine Palace restaurant.
Today he went for a long walk in The People's Park before going to Mass and then enjoyed a Sunday roast before heading back to Mountjoy.
"It's been an amazing weekend and the one person I really owe so much to is John Flynn my counsellor who has been such a wonderful support," he added.
After losing his lucrative Limerick restaurant business through addiction to drugs and gambling, Pat Scanlon claims he made “the biggest mistake of his life” when he agreed to get involved in a major drugs run.
However, he claims he has since changed his ways and in recent years the inmate won a prize at Listowel Writers’ Week and has also completed several chapters of his first novel which is due for publication.
The inmate said he was first moved to do something to help others after he saw a documentary in prison on orphans in Belarus following the Chernobyl Disaster in Ukraine.
Adi Roche of the Chernobyl Children’s Project has described Pat Scanlon as a "truly inspirational figure".
The other charities which will benefit from Pat Scanlan’s double-marathon fundraiser include the Romanian Challenge Appeal, Calcutta Calling and St Joseph and The Helpers Charity.
Personal donations can still be made to ‘Pat’s Gift’ at the Bank of Ireland account no: 15305675, sort code 90-06-23.