Australia to Ireland Virtual Mission

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Around Ireland there are groups of GROW members, staff, volunteers and their friends and families taking part in a unique challenge as part of GROW in Ireland’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The overall aim of the challenge, launched by the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Richard Andrews earlier in May, is to cover a total distance of 50,000km by participating in group (i.e. 3 or more people) walks or runs before the GROW National Weekend in September. This represents the approximate distance from Sydney to Athea (Co. Limerick) – and back! Approximately 200 people are currently engaged so on average each participant should be clocking up about 10 km per week, which should be easily achievable. For progress updates, check out GROW’s My Virtual Mission control page.

The main objective of the adventure is to help raise the profile of GROW nationally and all those participating and their supporters are encouraged to share photos and status updates, using the hashtag #GROW50ie. In addition, it is hoped that the campaign will encourage those in the GROW community to take up or rekindle a healthy habit involving more exercise, and thus reap the benefits. Accompanying the campaign, there is also a fundraising initiative and supporters are encouraged to donate online to their chosen team/region via the GROW iDonate page or to text the word GROW to 50300 to donate €2.

The virtual journey starts in Sydney, Australia, where GROW was founded in 1957. It passes through Papua New Guinea, where Fr Sean O’Hanlon was stationed as a missionary. Sean was responsible for bringing GROW to Athea, Co. Limerick in 1969.  In order to clockup 50,000km – or 1,000km for each year GROW has been in Ireland – the route then doubles back on itself, from Athea back to Sydney. The trail passes by Mt Everest, Mt Elbrus and Mont Blanc, which have all been conquered by mountaineer Derek Mahon on his Seven Summit challenge in 2014, 2012 and 2013 respectively. 

The campaign artwork has been kindly produced by Jonathan from the Eastern Region and features a portion of the globe showing Australia and Ireland, with the well known landmarks of the Sydney Opera House and the round tower in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. Mt Everest is also depicted, with a jubilant person on top, depicting someone who may have struggled but has ultimately succeeded in a massive challenge, one small step at a time. The observant reader might also note the Moon as in the same year GROW landed in Ireland (1969), so too did astronauts from Earth land on the moon – and of course the moon gave rise to the word “lunatic” – a word which thankfully is no longer in use!

For a flavour of the launch, have a look at the photos on Facebook.