Down Gaelic Star Helps Plant Million Trees in Kenya

Down player Kevin McKernan helps plant a million trees for Self Help Africa

Down player Kevin McKernan helps plant a million trees for Self Help Africa

One of Down’s best known players has recently returned from an historic trip to Africa, where he kick-started a bid to plant more than a million trees to help combat climate change.

Down player Kevin McKernan joined 50 leading GAA stars to compete in the first ever ‘Plant the Planet Games’ in Nairobi, Kenya, on a visit where they also planted the first thousand trees in a GPA-backed tree planting effort to tackle climate change in Africa.

Kevin McKernan on a visit to Kenya with Self Help Africa. (

Each of the participating players, who included inter-county hurlers, footballers and camogie players from 23 different counties, were tasked with raising €10,000 in sponsorship to support the effort. 

The group’s collective total has already topped half a million euro, with funds still coming in.

The initiative was organised by Galway dual player Alan Kerins (Warriors for Humanity) in conjunction with development charity Self Help Africa, and is also being supported by Kenyan Olympic medallist and world record holding runner, David Rudisha.

Kevin McKernan on a visit to Kenya with Self Help Africa.

In a social media post, Kevin McKernan said: “I will be forever grateful to every person that donated to this project. I promise you that the lasting impact this will have for the people we met in their daily lives is immeasurable. It is a source of life.”

Business Development Director at Self Help Africa, Martha Hourican, said that the trip had exceeded all expectations, and that the support provided by the Gaelic players would have a transformational effect for communities in Kenya hard hit by the effects of climate change.

Martha added: ”‘Regions of Kenya have endured four successive years of drought, upwards of two million livestock have been lost this year alone, and crops have failed.

Kevin McKernan gets hands on in planting trees in Kenya.

“This trip responds to that crisis in a practical way, while also highlighting for people back home across Ireland very real effects of climate change being felt by poor and vulnerable communities in Africa,” she said.

Amongst the participants in the inaugural ‘Plant the Planet Games’ with Kevin McKernan were Limerick Hurler Sean Finn, Wexford’s Matthew O’Hanlon, Kerry’s Stefan Okunbor, Clare’s Podge Collins, Kilkenny’s Grace Walsh, and Niamh O’Sullivan from Meath.  

The players took to the field for a series of exhibition games at Nairobi Rugby Club, before visiting projects being implemented by Self Help Africa in Kenya, and planting trees at Baringo in the country’s drought affected Rift Valley.

To find out more about Self Help Africa’s efforts to plant millions of trees in Africa visit: