Teen to cycle 775km in loving memory of his nanny & in support of his grieving grandad

Philip Killeen, 16, is cycling 775km to give hope to his grandad following the loss of his wife to cancer.

775km is no random figure either, it is the distance from Philip’s family home in Galway to his grandparents home in the UK. Unfortunately, it was the length of a journey that Philip’s family could not make for their Granny’s funeral due to the ongoing pandemic.

Mary Killeen died of cancer eight weeks ago in King’s College Hospital in London. She left behind her grieving husband, Seán Killeen who is 85 years of age.

Video by Eleanor Mannion, RTE.

Sean met Mary some 63 years ago in Galway. They eventually emigrated to London, where they have remained since.

If losing his wife wasn’t bad enough, to not have his family by his side at the funeral was equally upsetting. As Sean explained “I would have liked if my son and my other daughter was there standing at the graveside. It didn’t happen like that, you know. It’s unreal. It’s not right.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on funerals. People no longer have the comfort of having their whole family around them. Sean’s case was no exception and sadly for his family back in Galway, there was no livestream of the funeral.

Seeing his grandad so upset gave his grandson Philip inspiration to offer him some hope. Philip decided he’d cycle the length of the journey from Galway to London while remaining within lockdown limits.

Philip is keeping track of his progress for his ‘My Cycle for Nanny’ challenge on @mycyclefornanny on Instagram.

He is fundraising through a dedicated GoFundMe page for Cancer Care West –

This story exemplifies the major sacrifices families are making during the pandemic. Long periods without being able to hug loved ones and but also being unable to attend funerals for loved ones. However, in the case of Philip, it also shows that even in the darkest of days, there is always hope.

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