Hero home from 17,000km Americas cycle
IAN Lacey has spent the guts of the past year cycling an average of 120 kilometres a day from the Arctic Circle to South America to raise funds for charity.
He was greeted by a pack of wolves and herds of caribou as he set off from Alaska and encountered everything from grizzly bears and moose to monkeys and alligators.
Last night he was given a hero's welcome at Dublin Airport by his family and the Carers Association, for whom he singlehandedly raised €20,000 after completing his 17,000 kilometre trek across the Americas in 350 days.
Looking tanned and fit, the 26-year-old native of Gorey, Co Wexford, cried tears of joy when he was reunited with his mother Emily, father John, sister Alice and his girlfriend Aine Lynch.
His "350 South" expedition saw him set off from Fairbanks, Alaska more than a year ago and end his odyssey in Terra Del Fuego in Argentina earlier this week. But the inherent danger of his solo trek never deterred him from his ultimate goal.
"The biggest thing was battling the elements. There were days when it just rained all day and I slept in my wet clothes and had to get up in them and go again."
But he said the real heroes are the more than 187,000 family carers in Ireland. The UCD science graduate cared for his grandmother Lily McGrath at the family home for eight years until her death at the age of 90 in 2008.