Blog Entry 10

Sunday June 9th, 2024.

First some really good news. The original fundraising target for this challenge was €10,000. We have gone beyond that and may even bring it to €20,000. For me this is great news because I have no view of how well the challenge is working in making people aware of Parkinson’s. The only real measurement is how many people have contributed and left messages. So my hope is that having reached the original fundraising target we have made a number of people aware.

This week my paddling buddies and I got bored with our local but great stomping grounds. We hitched the boats up on the car and headed for Dalkey. The evening was windy and the tide was out but we ventured on the water any way. I am so glad we did. The conditions were similar to conditions on a lake with a stiff breeze. The practice was well worth our time. That says nothing of the views we got paddling around Dalkey Island and then on to Killiney beach. The seal colony on the island was great to see, but most of them looked bored with us. I think kayakers are no longer of interest to us. A couple of pups got excited and entered the water, quickly followed by their mothers. I can imagine the scolding they got. I will try to get some images out on our YouTube channel.

In terms of the challenge we are getting down to the quick of it (although it will not be quick). I am at that nervous excitement phase a bit like the gap between diving into cold water and actually entering the water. I seriously question the sense of doing it. There is no backing out now, especially as so many people have been so kind both with supporting the cause and supporting me in getting ready to complete the paddle.
The next three weeks are looking very exciting for me.

Blog Entry 9 

Sunday June 2nd, 2024.

Under four weeks to go or as my boys said when they were young 26 sleeps. The campaign is getting to the point where answers to questions need to be more immediate. The paddling is progressing but the daya to day running of the trip is coming into focus more and more. I published the initial route and so now need to make sure there is a bed for everyone on the team for each noght that we are on the river. Because this is a live project everythinmg changes constantly. That said for every new challenge that raises it’s head the solution never seems to be far behind. Just this week I found that we may be short of a spot to sleep for two of the crew. One day later a dear friend Vincent called to ask could he provide a hotel room for one of the nights of the campaign. So I am hopeful that at this stage we will be on the water early Friday June 28th and we will make a steady progress to emerging onto the Estuary a little over a week later.

I was just told that Lough Ree Access for All has offered a small reception for us in Lanesborough. The centre there does stellar work making the water way accessible to people with both physical or intellectual difficulties. I am humbled by the fact that they would take time for this campaign.
Paddling progresses and today Eamonn and went to Lambay again. I will try to put the track up in the gallery. We were accompanied by Eamonn’s wife Maria and my eldest son Adam. Because of tides and sea conditions the trip took a bit longer. We had a great crossing with a few rollers and very light winds. The activity on the water today was great to see. Commercial fishing boats, yachts sailing around Rockabill, and small craft out for a spot of fishing. From the sea bird activity there must have been plenty of fish around. It was great to see Gannets diving for there own fish as opposed to the Fulmars who were mugging the small vessels.
That is it for now I will be back on the water tomorrow and looking forward to sharing some of the good I get from being there with anyone who will listen.

Blog Entry 8

We are five weeks and one day away from the start of this adventure, and I just had a meeting with the Parkinson’s Ireland leadership team. Shane the CEO has volunteered to come out on one of the longest sections of the trip. This is in my opinion an act of heroism as Shane can’t swim.
Training this week has been both good and bad. The bad bit being the apathy barrier that Parkinson’s brings to lots of life’s activities. On Tuesday I had finished my day’s work and knew that I needed to go training. Thinking about just the logistics of a simple training session almost had me paralysed. Thinking about hhoisting an 88lb double kayak onto a roof rack does no one any good. When you add Parkinson’s to that and look at the aspects of gearing up, getting the tides right, and hauling the boat across rocks and sand to get to the sea I was surprised I actually go the session done.
The good part was that as soon as Eamonn and I had paddled out just the first 100 metres all the cares and trouble fell behind. The sea was as smooth as glass and there was no wind. Rockabill lioghthouse looked almost close enough to touch. We didn’t bother discussing the route. On a calm evening like that Lambey Island has an almost magnetic pull. The tide as it turns out was almost perfect and we paddled across in under 40 minutes. Coming back we were facing into the setting sun and could see some thunder heads approaching. Luckily we got back to shore before the weather turned and headed home tired but happy.
Until now I have been a little sceptical about exercise making things better. As an example I always feel worse the day after my Pilates. That single training session has actually convinced me that exercise can indeed m ake a difference. I got home feeling so much better than when I left and it was all down to the paddling.
So if whether you have Parkinson’s or not I am addinmg my voice to all those telling you that exercise is good. I think that it just needs to be the right exercise for you.

Blog Entry 7

Saturday May 18th, 2024.
Another good week of paddling and preparing. Paddled 4 days in a row between 8 and 16 kilometres per session. The sea sessions were as always more interesting and indeed more challenging. We tried the Wave Sport Horizon double kayak out in some waves and surf. It handles differently to the Hydras but still gives a sense of security. The Hydra tries to go over the wavers where the Horizon tends to just push straight through. The occasional wave breaking over my chest really kept me awake and concentrating. I am not sure Eamonn noticed so much as he was behind me and possibly did not get the same amount of water hitting him.
I have at last made a start at the schedule for the Shannon trip. This schedule is based on putting in and getting out on the East of each of the lakes and indeed the Shannon Estuary. I will put together an alternative for each of the lake shore stops on the West of the lake so that wind conditions can be allowed for. the timetable is posted in gallery.

Blog Entry 6

Monday May 13th, 2024.
The good weather for the past week has been great for paddling. Eamonn and I are putting in a lot of kilometres in both single kayaks and our double kayak. Over the weekend we put to sea and travelled from Donabate to Rush. A lovely paddle with enough Waves to make it interesting. We met a couple of seals who were curious and followed us around Rush headland. We hope to get in a lot more time at sea before the Shannon challenge starts. Later this week I will post the highlights of our first sea trip on the YouTube channel. Here is the channel link:

From a Parkinson’s point of view my main challenges are energy and apathy. Sometimes it is hard to separate the two. Do I not feel like training because I really don’t have the energy, or because my apathy level is high, and I just can’t be bothered? When I get into the kayak and feel the breeze on my face it is clear to me which caused my reluctance, and I usually enjoy the session. There is nothing that wakes you up like a wave breaking over your boat and threatening to capsize you.

Fundraising is moving on a pace. We now have our first sub-campaign started and it is ambitious setting itself a target that is higher than the original main campaign target. All I can say is thanks to the folks contributing and I hope we all reach or even exceed our targets.

Blog Entry 5

Wednesday May 5th, 2024.
Another Friday passed and I missed another Blog entry. The good news is that I am paddling a lot more than on previous weeks. In truth like a lot of people I prefer paddling to writing about it. The other thing I noticed is that I am writing about Paddling and not so much about Parkinson’s.
Let me get the paddling part done first and then a few words on how Parkinson’s is affecting my training plan for Paddle4Parkinsons.
I am now paddling at least three times a week. Last week I got up to 4 times and had consecutive sessions on Sunday and Monday. I started the Monday session tired and it was a struggle paddling up stream from Palmerston. This is starting to give a taste of the challenge before me.

In February I was prescribed both Levodopa (Sinemet) and Trihexyphenidyl (Artane). My Parkinson’s symptoms are largely controlled by this although first thing in the morning is quite ropy. Managing energy to allow me to train is my main challenge. So far, I have not pushed myself too far although I do need to rest (a.k.a. go for a nap) after most training sessions.
The P4P campaign is progressing, and I will have routes planned for the Shannon be the end of this week. My aim is to have alternate routes for the lakes that are weather dependent so that I can choose the more sheltered route for any session. This may be a longer route but will not be as tiring.
Some of the supports I am getting for the campaign are great. I have been offered sleeping accommodation in both Glasson and Dromineer. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing.

Blog Entry 4

Sunday April 28th, 2024.
Wednesday’s paddle was very tiring but satisfying. We paddled upstream on the Liffey from Palmerston to Straw Hall and back a couple of times. The upstream paddle in a big double kayak is quite strenuous. Trier out Greenland paddles for the first time too. A very different experience and the muscles in my arm let me know that they were working in a different way to adapt to the grip.
A couple of weeks ago Eamonn and I picked up the double kayak from the Canoe Centre in Palmerston. I don’t think it is the normal way to pick up a kayak, as we put it straight in the water and paddled down the Liffey to Ringsend. It was a lovely paddle, and we were lucky with the tide. It being a double we did not shoot the weirs but got out and walked the kayak over. The most interesting part for me was kayaking down the river and under all the bridges. I captured this on video and if you want to see a short version of paddling under the bridges of Dublin, have a look Here.
The day-to-day training happens mainly in the Broadmeadow Estuary. Conditions vary every time we go out. Yesterday we had North-East wind and 2-foot waves. Today the wind has swung around to the west so paddling will be different again.

Below is a link to some of the media coverage of the campaign so far.
Brendan O Connor Show – Saturday 6th April around 11.30 – Philip link: Dublin dad with Parkinson’s disease to paddle down River Shannon for charity
Daily Mail – Maeve Quigley – Monday 8th 16:30 Interviewed with Maeve published in Daily Mail Tuesday 9/4/24
The Sun – Nicola Bardon – Call 9th April at 15:30 – Looking for more photos – family shots etc
Radio Kerry – Deirdre Walsh – Thursday 11th April at 14:30

Blog Entry 3

Wednesday April 24th, 2024.
Confession time first. I had a long-planned trip to go to the World Snooker Championships over the weekend. I missed both training and blogging for the weekend. That said it was a great weekend away and probably my last until I paddle down the Shannon.
Current training schedule is three sessions a week and this will increase as time goes by.
We have had a lot of positive feedback on the campaign to date as well as reaching 44% on our fundraising. This is great progress. If you are reading this then I would urge you to share the campaign as much as possible as awareness of Parkinson’s is even more important than fundraising.

Blog Entry 2

Friday April 12th, 2024.

It has been a hectic week for me kicking off the Paddle4Parkinsons campaign. Through luck rather than planning this has coincided with Parkinson’s Awareness Week.

I have been interviewed by several radio programs and Newspapers. This has I hope helped in raising awareness and it certainly has given the fundraising part of the campaign a great kick-off.

In training I have been out paddling with Eamonn on the Liffey and on our usual paddling ground the Broadmeadow estuary. On the Liffey we put in at Palmerstown weir and paddled up stream under the M50 bridge. There was a very high water level in the river so paddling upstream was a challenge.


Next week I will again be training on the river and in the estuary, so if you see a couple of folks paddling give a wave, it might just be me and Eamonn.

I will also be working on the planning and logistics of paddling down the Shannon.

So please keep in touch with Paddle4Parkinson’s and if you feel like donating or running your own fundraiser have a look Here

Blog Entry 1

Hi, this is Frank and Paddle4Parkinsons is now under way. At least the training part and this bit to let people know that it is happening. Like many I want to do the good stuff (like paddling) and tend to ignore the more mundane things that make events happen. So here for me is the hardest part of Paddle4Parkinsons, sharing with anyone who cares enough to read this Blog.
Friday April 5th, 2024.
As part of my first Blog, I should let everyone know what Paddle4Parkinsons is and who is involved.
Paddle4Parkinsons originated as a long-term pipe dream I have had since I took up Kayaking 8 years ago. Like many I want to do something a bit unusual and, in my book, paddling the Shannon from source to sea counts. Being diagnosed with Parkinsons has focussed me on achieving this as a personal goal. While I am on this journey, I feel that it could and should be used. So, I am using it to mainly inform people about Parkinson’s. I want to let them know that life with Parkinson’s is as good as you make it and that big physical challenges can still be met. The fundraising part is still important, and I hope everyone who reads this will do what they can to help with the fundraising. That said if even one person uses this adventure to make their life with Parkinson’s better then it is a success.
Who is involved.

Frank (Me) and I get to benefit from the support of lots of people and paddle down the Shannon.

Eamonn who has taught me everything I know about kayaking has volunteered to accompany me on this adventure and help me through it. Eamonn is a fellow leader in the Donabate/Portrane Sea Scouts, and he gives time to working with young people tirelessly.

Doreen my wife and partner has not told me I am crazy but encourages me to stretch myself and meet the physical challenges of Parkinson’s.

Adam and Jack my sons who will accompany me on my journey. Jack is providing help with the web site and social media in the way that a 16-year-old can for as he says “An aul fella” like me.

Carmel my cousin who has contributed unstintingly with time and wisdom.

Parkinson’s Ireland supports me as they support all of the 15,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Ireland.

The Shower Doctor a small business with a big heart has helped by providing a double kayak to enable long distance paddling.

The Canoe Centre for helping with kayaks and equipment.

PAYZONE Ireland my employer who has responded to my having Parkinson’s in the most positive way I can imagine. PAYZONE is supporting Paddle4Parkinsons by giving me time. Time to train. Time to complete the event. Time to deal with the normal day to day parts of living with Parkinson’s. I know as the journey continues PAYZONE is there for me in a way I never imagined an employer could or would be.

For 4 weeks now Eamonn and I have been paddling around the Broadmeadow Estuary on Friday and Sunday.
Last Friday we took possession of our tandem kayak (Wavesport Horizon) and to the astonishment of the staff at The Canoe Centre we popped it straight in the Liffey and paddled down to Ringsend. Have a look at our instagram for some pictures. click here

This week we will see what Storm Kathleen does and be out training again as soon as possible.

I am undertaking to update this Blog at least every Friday to let everyone know what the training plan is and how it is progressing. So please keep in touch with Paddle4Parkinson’s and if you feel like donating or running your own fundraiser have a look Here.