Monday 27 January 2020

'He was more than just an uncle or a brother' - Heartbroken family embark on 200km cycle in memory of 'legend' who lost life in tragic accident

Michael McGrath - just after a cycle
Michael McGrath - just after a cycle

Louise Kelly

A heartbroken family are to undertake a 200km cross-country cycle in honour of their "larger than life" uncle who died in a tragic accident.

Farmer Michael McGrath was replacing Perspex panels on a shed roof on his rural farm in Galway last November when he fell to his death.

"There was storm about to come and he was replacing some of the panels. There was just one left that he had to replace and, unfortunately, he fell," his nephew Mark Molloy told

"His death came as an unbelievable shock to everyone."

Michael celebrating a Galway All-Ireland win
Michael celebrating a Galway All-Ireland win

Michael lived a "healthy and full life", he had travelled and worked in Australia, the US and the UK and "made friends wherever he went".

On his return to Ireland, his ten siblings and extended families welcomed his "divilment" at the many family events, where his song singing was renowned.

He attended his godson's wedding in Galway just weeks before the tragic accident - and Mark shared his fond memory of the day.

"The priest was giving the Dubs a bit of stick in the church, a bit of craic about not knowing anything about the Irish language and what not.

"Michael was reading a Prayer of the Faithful and, while it was written in English, he read it unprompted as Gaeilge."

Michael's family came up with the idea of doing something that would reflect his "vibrant" character as they bade farewell to him at his funeral.

"Everybody was involved with coming up with the idea. We had to do something to mark his memory," said Mark.

"He was more than just an uncle or a brother."

A fundraising campaign was launched just over a week ago whereby around 30 members of Michael's family will cycle from Dublin to his home in Cloonavadogue.

"We lost a loving brother, an outstanding uncle and an amazing neighbour and friend," the fundraising page reads.

The event is set to take place in late June and all funds raised will go directly to Galway Hospice.

"He was so into cycling himself that we felt that this would be the best way forward. He enjoyed nothing more than a 50 mile cycle from Cloonavadogue to Loughrea and back," said Mark.

"The Galway Hospice really looked after granny - who Michael was particularly close to - so we felt that this was a worthy cause."

Whether doing just a few kilometres or the entire Dublin to Galway stretch, Michael's family will be convening at his home in Cloonavadogue - and later in the local Mattie Ryans pub.

"We will have a bit of a party to finish it out. That's the way Michael would have wanted it".

If you would like to give a donation to the McGrath family you can access the EveryDayHero funding page here.

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