A Belcoo man who recently became the first person to swim the length of Lower Lough McNean is about to take on an even greater challenge as he prepares to kayak 300km down the River Shannon.

Starting in Dowra, Co. Leitrim Garry McGovern will make his way down Ireland’s longest river for charity. And along the way he will be making videos speaking about his mental health in a hope that talking about his experiences will inspire others to be more open about any issues they may be dealing with.

Over the last 18 months Garry, has opened up about his own mental health, and the videos he has produced have received positive feedback and he hopes that the videos he makes while on the Shannon will be just as beneficial to those watching them.

“A lot of guys that have been commenting on videos or donating, guys who have known me they are saying ‘what you are doing is brilliant, especially on video’. You watch me on videos and you would never in a million years think this guy had issues with depression and mental health,” explained Garry.

“We all have different ways of dealing with it. There is counselling or therapy or medication. It’s to take that first step and after that there are options.

“Medication won’t work for everyone but for me what I have found personally it is talking to a camera in the middle of a lake.

“And the hope is right lads I was on the edge but this is what I’m doing now. I don’t know if it’s the right thing, I don’t know if this will be a path I’ll go down but it’s living life.

“I’m doing good for others. It’s a good pathway at the minute, I’ll keep laughing and joking and I will try and keep it entertaining.”

While donations to the chosen charities has not been as good as he expected, Garry is hoping when he gets underway things will pick up, but donations he has received from the most unlikely of sources are inspiring him to keep going.

“It’s what’s keeping me going. One guy gave a donation and I’ve known him for years. He was just saying what I’m doing is huge to him and other lads have made massive donations and if it wasn’t for that I would be so frustrated thinking what can I do for people to donate.

“Simple gestures from guys is humbling and it means something and it has gone beyond the charities.

“I know the stories in my head stuff I have never said before and hopefully they will all relate. We all have a different story of how we got to it. Hopefully whoever watches it they can relate to some aspects of it and may be get a bit of courage from it.

“For me its something I want to do and I feel better for this and I’m leaving a mark and I’m doing good in the world.”

On Monday, September 30, Garry and his kayak full of equipment started their adventure in Co. Leitrim and hope by day five to be completing the journey in Co. Clare.

Hoping to travel around 60km a day it will be from Dowra on to Rooskey on the Leitrim/Roscommon border. From there on to Athlone, Athlone to Portumna in Co. Galway. From Portumna into Limerick before finally ending in Killimer in Co. Clare.

With his kayak all rigged up including with a solar panel and 12 volt battery to charge his laptop and GoPro, Garry is raring to go.

The only thing left to do is raise as much money as possible.

All the money Garry raises will go to charities working in mental health, cancer and animal welfare.

“I’m just doing everything I can to try and get it promoted. Compared to the swim, the swim was easy. This has been unbelievably difficult.

“But it’s the experience of a lifetime to me and a huge personal challenge.

“And any money donated goes straight to the charities.”

By the time you are reading this, Garry should be heading towards Limerick with the view of finishing his journey on Friday, October 4.

You can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/teams/TheShannon300.