Name: Eileen Kennelly
Occupation: Secondary School Principal
Local parkrun: Tralee
Number of parkruns completed: I joined parkrun this time last year. I completed my 50th parkrun on 21 December 2019. I have also volunteered on 20 occasions primarily with junior parkrun.
How did you get involved in parkrun?
My son Cathal lives in London. He has been a committed parkrunner for the past few years. He introduced me to the wonderful world of parkrun, a world of friendships, fun, relaxation, camaraderie and good health.
What do you love about parkrun?
I love that I can combine all of the following on a Saturday morning, meeting friends, having a relaxing chat and a laugh. I enjoy the exercise, it clears my heads, I am a better person for it with all those endorphins released.
My family enjoy looking at the photos on Facebook. I like linking up with Cathal after his parkrun in London as we share the stories from our morning.
Who do you participate with?
Tralee parkrun is a such a warm welcoming place. I have met so many people, past students, former teaching colleagues, my son Cathal’s friends and new parkrun friends. I love my usual chat on a Saturday morning is with Hilda, Josie, Jemma and Noreen.
Any parkrun milestones / achievements you would like to share?
As mentioned earlier I completed my 50th parkrun in December. I am also very pleased to have volunteered on 20 occasions in 2019.
How has parkrun impacted positively on your family outside of 9:30am on a Saturday?
My son Cathal has enjoyed parkrun over the past few years. I have witnessed the friendships and enjoyment he has gained through being involved in parkrun. I now am on the receiving end of all those positives. I often say to him ‘Thank you for the gift of parkrun’.
My husband and daughter have joined.
parkrun is a routine, a lovely start to a Saturday morning, at whatever pace you want it to be, a run, a jog, a walk, a chat, a cuppa, and a catch up with friends old and new.
My school has also benefitted as a parkrun friend Ellen gifted the school with a piano!
Do you have a health or fitness goal?
I enjoy feeling well. Daily exercise, whatever form it takes, is a must for me.
Who is your dream parkrun running buddy?
That’s a tough question! I say that I have lots of dream parkrun buddies in Tralee!
What was your best parkrun experience?
I have had many memorable parkrun experiences, but I think my first parkrun experience was very enlightening. I really didn’t know what to expect even though Cathal had told me about parkrun. I was amazed at the number of people there, the welcome given to me as a first timer by Sharon and Siobhan and to visitors, the range in ages of people there, the babies in their buggies, the chat and cuppa afterwards.
My trips with the TpoT group, Tralee parkrunners on Tour, have been great, Clonbur Woods with Caroline, the trip to Mallow and the lovely visit to John Robinson’s house on the way home for the tea, celebrating the birthdays of Majella and Don in Bushy Park Dublin with Cathal flying over from London for that parkrun.
What was the funniest parkrun moment?
Pat Sheehy, Stella, Hilda, Mairead, Angela and I travelled to Bere Island on the October Bank Holiday weekend. From the minute we met at the Ballygarry Hotel at 5.45am we laughed, therefore it was a series of funny moments all the way and back with Pat Sheehy and the girls.
What advice would you give to someone who’s never been to parkrun?
parkrun is a gift, it is about people, friendship, kindness, fun, a lovely space for an hour or so on a Saturday morning. Try it once and you will definitely go back.
For parents I think junior parkrun is a powerful means of engaging young people and their families.
I have witnessed inspirational acts of kindness in Tralee parkrun, be it the Guides for the Visually Impaired, the Sanctuary Running, the celebrations of parkrunners’ milestones, the acknowledgements of volunteers, the chats with and encouragement of all participants. We are witnessing inclusion and community at its best every Saturday morning. What an amazing legacy Paul Sinton-Hewitt has given the world.
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