18-year-old Caitlín Mc Gonigle, who hails from Clonmany in North-West Donegal, reflects on her involvement in the Dublin to Mayo tractor run as she prepares for this year’s event.
While on a charity tractor run my Granda in September 2018 from Mizen Head to Malin Head, we stopped in a town called Kilkelly in Co. Mayo. It was here we first met the Mayo men. They made a massive impact on me and my family and went over and beyond to make sure we were comfortable and content in their town as we stopped for the night.
After giving Granda a bigger welcome than we could have imagined, we knew they would be friends we would keep. The conversations started to flow, and plans started to be shared among the group of tractor enthusiasts and granda was invited back to take part in their impressive Dublin to Mayo tractor run.
Granda invited me to share the run with him and I knew by the excitement in Granda’s face this was something he wanted me to do.
I decided to get involved in this run from the day Granda asked me to complete it with him. But my mind was made up that I would complete the journey alone after my Granda took a massive heart attack and died in November 2018, only a week after our announcement that we were going to complete the tractor run together.
I decided I had to continue to complete this tractor run in memory of Granda on his tractor. I contacted the Dublin 2 Mayo committee asking permission to carry on and still join their run, this time alone. The boys were more than happy to have me on board and so I began advertising and fundraising locally and online.
I was the only girl who completed the entire journey last year but there were also a few girls who drove parts of the run which was great to see!
There were a lot of enjoyable aspects of the run and I really enjoyed every single minute of it, but the most enjoyable aspect was definitely the people. Every single person there was as welcoming as the other.
I was quite nervous going down the road to the starting line especially knowing I only knew Kieran, dad’s friend, who also drove in the tractor run.
It was not long until I was mingled in among the rest of the drivers, having the craic. I knew they would be people I would and have since stayed in contact with.
I did find though that tiredness was quite a challenging aspect, however, the excitement and adrenaline and the fact I was doing this in memory of my Granda kept me going.
The one thing I would have done differently, and my dad will love reading, this as he had me well warned, I would have worn more layers!!
The Friday we were very lucky with the weather and I drove most of the day in a t-shirt and got sunburned. Saturday, on the other hand, we were not so lucky, and I was absolutely frozen!
London to Mayo
I am now counting down the days until the London to Mayo tractor run and cannot wait to participate in this run and meet up with some of my co-drivers/friends from last year.
It is taking place from April 5th, leaving the Claddagh Ring in London and finishing up the following Saturday in Kilkelly in Mayo.
I will be driving the same Massey 35x as I drove last year. I won’t lie, I am partly nervous as it is an extremely long distance to be driving on a vintage tractor with no cab, but the excitement overpowers the nerves by far.
I’m looking forward to every minute of it but I am mostly looking forward to the finish line as I cannot even begin to describe the atmosphere and pride I felt crossing the finish line last year.
I will be completing all 835.3km myself and will be raising money again this year to add with the Extreme Tractor runs sponsorship, which is all going towards the Daisy Lodge Centre, a purpose-built therapeutic centre for families affected by cancer.
I have sponsorship cards in the local surrounding area of Inishowen. There are also sponsorship cards around the mainlands. There are tickets being sold to win a 2020 Renault Clio car and loads of other great prizes. I also have a PayPal account where people can donate.
I would like to see more females take part in local tractor runs throughout my local area in Inishowen but also over Ireland during summer 2020 as it is a very male-dominated hobby! I even got my mum, Sharon, to take part in a run in 2019.
So, if you see us on the road please give us a big wave and a cheer and don’t forget every cent counts, so please give what you can to this very worthy charity.