Donal Murphy, all geared up for 100 miles of running for Pieta House.

Abbeyfeale musician and businessman, Donal Murphy is fundraising for Pieta House by running a marathon a week for the four weeks of the month of February! Training for a marathon is a tough commitment, but to run one a week seems pretty ambitious! I caught up with him to find out more. So, how did he come up with the event?

“Each year some friends and I enter different running events around Ireland and unfortunately, the majority of these events have been cancelled over the past year. So, I decided to undertake a challenge of running 100 miles in the month of February for charity. I chose to fundraise for Pieta House, a charity dedicated to preventing suicide and self -harm. Pieta House do amazing work as they support people and communities in crisis by providing freely accessible, professional services to all. Their vision is of a world where suicide, self-harm and stigma is replaced by hope, self-care, and acceptance” he said. I asked him if he believed the current pandemic is having a negative effect on mental health.
“Understandably, a lot of people are finding the current climate extremely challenging; many are experiencing massive changes in their lives. People have lost their jobs, are experiencing social isolation, school, and college closures and unfortunately, many people have lost their loved ones. The impact of this virus is devastating.
We need to come together in times of crises. Funding services like Pieta House ensures that more people can receive support. The work that Pieta House does is invaluable as an avenue for anyone that is feeling down and needs someone to talk to” he answered.
Donal has a keen interest in fitness. I asked if he’d upped his fitness regime for this event.
“I’ve always enjoyed fitness and usually run twice a week during the winter months; however, I have had to increase runs to three times a week and increase the running distance by a few extra miles each time. Not the easiest due to frost, icy roads and wet weather but it will be well worth it. I plan to run a full marathon (26miles) each week for four weeks.” he told me. He’s also delighted with the support he has been getting to date. “I have set up a fundraising page on my Facebook page and by the end January I have raised approx. €2,200. This kindness and generosity of the public, friends and family has been remarkable. That being said, I hope to raise as much money as possible for the charity. The current goal is €3,000, and I would be delighted if we could reach it.”
We spoke about the current state of business in Abbeyfeale town.
“Abbeyfeale is definitely a changed town, once renowned for its many bars and nightlife. Most of these businesses have been closed for almost a year now. Hopefully, they will all open again later on in 2021. That said, there are a lot of very popular and thriving businesses in Abbeyfeale that are doing pretty well and of course, Kostal (automotive manufacturing plant) is still a huge employer locally with approx. eight hundred people working there. That sort of employer generates a good spin off for the various businesses locally. Abbeyfeale will survive this pandemic. Supporting local was never more important! My wife (Mary) and I have a business in Abbeyfeale called Abbey Stone and Tile Centre. As with most other businesses, the pandemic has had its impact, with us being closed to the public for a lot of 2020 and so far in 2021. That being said, we have tried our best to facilitate essential jobs. We have also kept ourselves busy by completing a full showroom revamp since Christmas 2020 & we plan to launch the new displays when we are allowed to re-open. We look forward to welcoming back our staff and customers when we return to some form of normality. Fingers crossed that all the local businesses will survive this tidal wave.”
As well as a business owner, Donal is a lifelong renowned musician, from the Murphy family of musicians and dancers. He has made several television appearances, has recorded many albums, and has travelled all over the world with his music and bands. Being unable to play live gigs is impacting the music industry nationally, but in particular, traditional music which would have been played in concerts and at gigs nationally and abroad under normal circumstances.
“I play button accordion with some bands, namely, Four men and a Dog and Breaking Trad. The music industry has taken a massive hit, and it does not look like we will get to perform live anytime soon. That being said, most musicians I know are still being creative, creating and recording new content. At the start of the pandemic, I invested in a home recording facility and I have been trying to record some new tracks every month. This forces me to research some old material and put sets together for recording. I am also busy writing some new tunes. Virtual gigs are great at the moment, providing many people with some great entertainment. However, I think I can speak for every musician though that we would all love to get back to live performance . The energy and excitement of a live show is what we all strive for. It is difficult to replace that virtually. Hopefully, by the end of 2021 we will all get to play live again. We will cherish the atmosphere and be invigorated once again!” Donal said optimistically.
Finally, I asked him what he thought the best possible outcome for 2021, business wise and musically?
“I sincerely hope that before the end of 2021, the economy and general lifestyle will get back on track. I think we are nearing the end of this hugely challenging time. Everybody is fed up, but we just need to unite as a country one last time by maintaining physical distance, washing our hands, wearing masks, and taking up the vaccine. I am very impressed by the advancements in science / medicine, and of course with the efforts of the public, we will soon get life back on track.
This year, I think more and more Irish people will stay in Ireland for holidays, shop local, and I believe the country as a whole we will benefit from this. On the music front, all going well, I hope that concerts will commence again before the end of the year and I think a lot of people will be relieved and delighted to support live music again. It is part of what we are as a nation and we must support it and cherish it. Until then, we will keep creating and will try to maintain good spirits. Long live Ceol Tradisiúnta!”
Couldn’t have said it better myself Donal! If you’d like to donate to Donal’s fundraiser, you’ll find all details on his Facebook page.