TRIBUTES have been paid to a father-of-two who died while cycling the Ring of Kerry on a “30-years-belated honeymoon” to Ireland.
Bruce Cunningham, from Southern Pines, North Carolina, suffered a suspected heart attack around 19 miles in to the Ring of Beara cycle near Kenmare, Kerry last Friday.
Mr Cunningham (71) was with his daughter, Jennie, when the tragedy occured.
Gardaí have confirmed that no other person or vehicle was involved in the incident, which occurred at around 4.20pm last Friday.
The family had been touring Ireland on what was described as a “30-years-belated honeymoon”.
Mr Cunningham’s wife, Ann, told The Pilot newspaper that their family has been “showered” with support and love.
“It’s been an amazing place to be and it was Bruce’s dream to come here. Bruce literally died with his boots on in one of the most beautiful valleys in the world doing something he loved very much with one of the three people he most loved,” she said.
Mr Cunningham was a cycling enthusiast, founding the popular ‘Tour de Moore’ 100-mile cycling event in his hometown, now in its thirtieth year.
Locals in Southern Pines, North Carolina have been devastated by the loss.
John Nagy, Editor of local newspaper The Pilot, told Independent.ie that Mr Cunningham was a “bedrock” of the small community.
A prominent attorney, he had also served on his county’s Board of Education since 2004 and was much-loved by locals, winning a ‘Man of the Year’ award in 2018.
Moore County Board of Education Chair Helena Wallin-Miller said that Mr Cunningham was a “tireless advocate” for public schools.
“From building playgrounds, to supporting academic achievement for all students – he immersed himself in supporting public education here in Moore County.
“I know he would want us to continue – to continue to work diligently to make our community a wonderful place to live, to continue the hard work of providing age-appropriate learning and educational opportunities in all our schools and facilities.”
Moore County Schools Superintendent Dr Bob Grimesey said: “His loss leaves a great cavern in our community and in our hearts. We are devastated, but we will honor him with our enduring devotion to all that he held dear.”
Mr Cunningham’s family have planned a celebration of life at a local theater that underwent restoration due to his efforts.
A Facebook post from his daughter, Katie, read: “The concession stand will be open (Bruce loved popcorn) and he would want everyone to come as they are. We even recommend that you ride your bike in for the event if you like. He would have loved that.
“Dad would have wanted everyone to support the community that he loved.”