Castletownroche man Pat O’Connor, is finally settling back into reality having rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in the Talisker Atlantic Challenge with his crew members Sean Underwood, Eoin O’Farrell and Thomas Browne.
The boys completed the challenge in 32 days 22 hours and 4 minutes and were the sixth team to cross the finish line out of 28 race entrants.
They completed the challenge back at the end of January and spent one week in Antigua to recover before returning home to Ireland.
Pat didn’t give himself much of a breather when he landed back on Irish soil as he went back to work as a locum doctor very shortly after his return.
“I was home 36 hours and I was straight back in the hospital,” Pat told The Avondhu earlier this week. “I was really looking forward to going back to work and I’m loving it,” he added.
The boys were recently given the opportunity to address an audience at the Grand Rounds in CUH where weekly medical lectures are held and are televised to hospitals around the county. There was two hundred people in attendance on Wednesday, February 14.
“It was a really nice honour,” said Pat.
The Relentless Crew, as they called themselves, have raised close to €30,000 so far for the paediatric unit at CUH. Although the boys only arrived back on dry land just over a month ago, Pat said that it feels like it was years ago.
Reminiscing on the difficult part of the challenge, he said he remembers focusing on lights he could see on the horizon. They reminded him of the lights on the sheds in the yard at home and so he found comfort in that and it gave him strength.
He also told of a diary his family had given him for the journey, and on each new day there was a message of motivation from a family member of friend.
Pat said that although it was hard to read at times and made him miss everyone at home, it was a source of hope too and the dream of reaching the end line.
Home felt a little bit closer,” he said.
On reaching the finish line in record time, Pat got the surprise of his life when he was welcome ashore by almost every member of his family. “It was absolutely lovely,” Pat told The Avondhu. “My emotions were all over the place. I didn’t think they’d be there.”
Pat and the other crew members have become best of friends and there was never an ill-word between them on the boat.
“It was easier than I thought,” said Pat. “We got on really well. It was our biggest fear – falling out with each other during the event but we discussed it and addressed any issues as soon as they occurred.W e never let anything build up,” he said.
Although the Atlantic Challenge was a gruelling undertaking, Pat is hungry for more adventure and is already thinking about the next challenge he might try.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “I would love to do another challenge. Maybe Everest might be a bit cliché so something different – I’m open to suggestions,” he said light-heartedly.
The boys are back into their normal routines after what was an outstanding achievement and they look forward to handing over the cheque to CUH Children’s Unit sometime towards the end of March.