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BOYS IN BLUE Kiltimagh native Brendan Colgan (left) and Liam Flanagan from Balla (right) will be driving the 299km trip from Dublin to Mayo in their respective tractors to raise money for charity. Pic: Michael McLaughlin.

A group of tractor enthusiasts are driving from Dublin to Mayo to raise money for charity

Ger Flanagan

LAST year, 22 tractor enthusiasts from the west of Ireland left Dublin on their pride and joys, and by the time they reached their final destination in Mayo – two days and 285km later –  they had amassed a convoy of 102 drivers.
This was, of course, the now famous Dublin2Mayo Charity Tractor Run and not some political demonstration from a bunch of aggrieved farmers living outside of The Pale.
It all began as an ambitious plan by Brendan Colgan, Brian Kelly, John Corley, Tom Lavelle and Padraig Gallagher over a chat and a cup of tea in October 2017, and the intentions of raising €10,000 for two charities close to their hearts. Soon, however, it developed into a national event. When Adrian Maye came onboard, the sky was the limit.
By the time the drivers switched their diesel engines off after their epic voyage, the event had raised an incredible €96,424 for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and the Special Care Baby Unit at Mayo University Hospital.
The money went towards a life-changing piece of equipment, the Masterscreen PFT for lung-function assessment, which will help 2,500 sick children in Crumlin, as well as a Video Laryngoscope and Neonatal Bilirubin Meters for the care of ill children in Castlebar.
And next month the event is back, with the organisers hoping to make it bigger and better than last year and hopefully break the €100,000 mark for their three chosen charities – the National Rehabilitation Hospital and both the Mullingar and Castlebar Children and Pediatrics Special Care Units.
“We thought if we raised €10,000 last year we would be doing really well, so we were over the moon with how it ended up,” Kiltimagh native and event organiser Brendan Colgan told The Mayo News. “The support was unbelievable and we couldn’t believe how everyone got behind us. From tyre men, mechanics, Murray Ambulances, the Gardaí and all the volunteers, everyone rallied in behind and did anything they could for us.
“By the time we reached Breaffy last year everyone was exhausted but it was a great feeling realising we had driven all the way from Dublin in tractors for charity.”

A Massey in Dublin
THIS year 30 tractors will leave Dublin Port on April 19 and will arrive into Kilkelly, via Longford and Dunmore, the following evening. There will be join-in points for tractors at Mother Hubbards, Ballyonan, Kildare and the Mullingar Bypass on day one; and in Longford Town, Roscommon Town, Dunmore and Claremorris (along the N17) on day two.
The event will conclude in the Big Red Barn set up in Kilkelly on Easter Saturday and Sunday with live music from the likes of Richie Remo, The Kilkennys, Rejig, Atlantic Rhythm, Pamela Gilmartin and Robert Mizzell.
On Saturday evening people will also be treated to the All-Ireland Tractor Speed Building contest between Donegal and south Roscommon teams. Both sides will go head-to-head as they try to fully assemble a Ferguson 20 tractor in sub 10 minute times.
There’ll even be a Massey Ferguson 135 up for grabs in a raffle and there’s a very good chance you may have seen it out and about over the last few months.
“We brought the Massey 135 up to Dublin for the National League game against Dublin and John Kelly was driving it up and down O’Connell street,” Colgan laughed. “He got some reaction from it – pretending he ran out of diesel in the middle of the street – I don’t think many of them had seen a Massey Ferguson before because he was told to go home a few times!
“But we’ve been pretty much promoting and fundraising for the whole year, trying our best not to hit the same places around Mayo and thankfully we’ve had more involvement up the country with fundraising this year.
“We were even at the Ploughing Championships last September and we got some support that day. We had nearly €23,000 raised coming out of it which was a huge start.”
Communicare Healthcare, Claremorris, are onboard as the main sponsor again this year and the organisers are open to all manners of sponsorship, both monetary or otherwise.

Giving back
ANOTHER participant in the run is Liam Flanagan, on board a 1963 Fordson Super Dexta. The Balla native is no stranger to events like these having been involved in charities such as the Niall Mellon Township Trust and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in the past, and says the sense of reward is huge.
Although he’ll be hoping for some good weather along the 299km route as his choice of tractor isn’t exactly weather proof
“One thing you notice, when the cause involves young children, is that it stirs a lot of interest and enthusiasm in an awful lot of people,” he told The Mayo News. “So many families can directly relate to the brilliant work the children’s hospitals, special care baby units and the National Rehabilitation Hospital provide.
“We all know someone who has used the services at some stage and it’s something you never forget.
“I’m really looking forward to the run and coming through my hometown. Although I hope it’s not raining, because my 56-year-old tractor has only a roll bar over my head and us vintage tractor drivers will be running ahead of the newer ones in their heated cabs!
“It’s all part of the fun though.”
Brendan Colgan echoes those views.
Having experienced the work of the hospitals up close and personal with his own son, he feels the sense of satisfaction from the event makes everything worth while.
“For me the most enjoyable part of the whole thing last year was when we drove through [the grounds of] Mayo University Hospital,” he recalled. “It was a very touching moment, particularly after my young lad was there using them services and to know that the money raised is going to good use, it was brilliant.
“It’s hugely satisfying to give something back like that. And we couldn’t have done it without all the brilliant volunteers and tractor drivers, because without them it wouldn’t be a success. Right now we just can’t wait to get going. Whoever wants to join us at the different join-in locations along the route is more than welcome.”

For more information on sponsorship or to join the Tractor Run, visit their Facebook page, ‘Dublin2Mayo Charity Tractor Run’.