Edel Sayers (pictured left) first got involved in the GOAL Mile in Termonfeckin, County Louth over ten years ago, joining a group of passionate community organisers leading the annual Christmas run.
In the following decade, Edel has particularly enjoyed seeing her children grow each year with the tradition.
“They been involved since they were three and four. They’re now in college but still run the Mile, and help out and it’s lovely to see it continue with another generation.”
“We’ve had some very memorable GOAL Miles over the years. In 2018, the Fleadh Ceoil came to Drogheda, and on the morning of the Mile, lots of traditional musicians were playing as people arrived and started their run. It was amazing but I felt sorry for them as it was really cold!
“One year we even Evanna Lynch a local actress from the Harry Potter films take part in launching the Mile and running it. She was swarmed by kids looking for autographs and was great with everyone.”
“The years when it snows are also really special, even if they are harder to organise and we have to get the shovels out.”
Communities Coming Together To Help Others
“We also see some traditions which make every year great. The local GAA Club, St Feichins, would have people from the teams running each year as do the local running clubs from Drogheda and it can be quite competitive. Then you would have little kids who are trying to run after them, followed by people with buggies, and grannies and grandads. There’s a nice mix of the people who are competitive, and some who are just there to get out and meet friends on the day.”
Edel also notes the significance the tradition can have for people from abroad or for Irish people living abroad.
“A friend of ours is married to a Finnish man, and his father comes over for Christmas each year. He is always at the GOAL Mile. We have a running joke that we time him at four minutes every year.”
“My sister, who lives in Australia, has also been over and joined the Mile a few times with her family, and there are other families that join when they come home from abroad. It is a great way of seeing a lot of people in one place while they are back.”
“I also recently read an article about a woman who moved from England a few days before Christmas in 2019 and her first social event was our GOAL Mile in Termonfeckin. She spoke about how it gave her an early idea of the commitment people in Ireland have for helping others, which I thought was lovely.”
‘We are supported every year by local journalist Alison Comyn (pictured above centre) who always starts the mile and introduces the reason why helping to provide funds to GOAL to so important’
The Power of the GOAL Mile
While the GOAL Mile has become a Christmas tradition of its own, Edel highlights how people don’t forget the reason the event is held in the first place.
“We hardly have to promote it now – it’s part of people’s Christmas. That said, people do understand the importance of supporting those in need. You do see a lot of €50 notes going into the box and some older people with jam-jars full of coins that they’ve saved throughout the year, which is amazing.”
“I recently put up a notice of the return of the GOAL Mile in 2021 on our Facebook page, after it was cancelled last year, due to Covid-19. A lot of people engaged with the post – you could see people were excited at the prospect of meeting up for it and raising much needed funds towards GOAL’s work again. There will be a lot of people who will be seeing each other for the first time in almost two years, so it will be special.”
To learn more about the GOAL Mile, or to register for or organise a GOAL Mile event in your community, please visit: https://www.goalglobal.org/goal-mile/