Kilkenny man's vintage tractor trek around Ireland to raise donor awareness

1500km on a 1955 Ferguson 20

Sian Moloughney

Reporter:

Sian Moloughney

1955 Ferguson 20 tractor organ donor trek

Paul Palmer is pictured with his wife Frances, daughters Gemma, Grace and Rachel and son Eddie. Picture: Alf Harvey.

An epic journey of 1,500km around Ireland on a 1955 Ferguson 20 tractor will set off from Kilkenny Castle this Saturday.

The challenge being taken on by local man Paul Palmer is to drive his tractor to all 32 counties on the island of Ireland - and to raise awareness of organ donation along the way.

The tractor, which is 63 years old and lacks the comforts of modern day tractors, can travel at a maximum speed of 25km per hour. Paul, a self-employed builder has built a wagon akin to a ‘Shepherd’s Hut’ which will be towed along and will provide a place for him to rest, refuel and refresh after his slow daily travels.

Paul's journey has an important goal. “When approaching my 50th birthday I had resolved to doing something worthwhile and to try to make a difference. I was motivated to take on this challenge as I was mindful of the plight of a relative who has been undergoing dialysis treatment while waiting for a kidney transplant. A transplant would greatly improve her quality of life. There are over 2,000 people in Ireland receiving dialysis treatment and there are over 500 people on transplant waiting lists for hearts lung, liver and kidneys.”

Paul’s journey will head south first, to Cork, before he makes his way around the rest of Ireland, including the six counties, in a self-funded expedition which is expected will take over a month to complete before he reaches his final destination, his local village Ballyouskill in North Kilkenny.

Paul is confident that while raising organ donor awareness he will enjoy the warm hospitality of communities and individuals along his journey and that they will allow him to pitch up his tractor and wagon on private land, including farmland.

He will be distributing organ donor cards and be photographed in towns and villages he passes through and will share his experiences along the way on the Facebook page, ‘The Ferguson 20/32 Challenge’.

Paul and his tractor will be setting off from Kilkenny Castle at 1.30pm this Saturday, July 28.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to Paul’s Challenge can do so directly to the Irish Kidney Association on Facebook or logging money to a special account set up at Ballyragget Credit Union (details on the The Ferguson 20/32 Facebook page).

Get your Organ Donor Cards from the Irish Kidney Association - ring 016205306 or free text the word DONOR to 50050. Visit website www.ika.ie/card. You can indicate your wishes to be an organ donor on your drivers license using Code 115.