Sunday 20 October 2019

Climb to remember Kieran and Nuala – and to help charity

The O’Connor family. Back: Rachel Cahill, Robert O’Connor and Rebecca O’Connor. Front: Mick O’Connor, Catrina O’Connor, Nuala O’Connor, Michael O’Connor and Deirdre O’Connor.
The O’Connor family. Back: Rachel Cahill, Robert O’Connor and Rebecca O’Connor. Front: Mick O’Connor, Catrina O’Connor, Nuala O’Connor, Michael O’Connor and Deirdre O’Connor.

Esther Hayden

Three generations of one family, rocked by tragedy in the late 1970s, will climb Croagh Patrick later this year to raise valuable funds for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland.

In 1977 Mick and Nuala O'Connor of Forest, Taghmon, faced the unimaginable when they lost two children within seven weeks of each other. Both seven-year-old Kieran and baby Nuala had spina bifida and hydrocephalus and died less than two months apart as a result of the condition.

Now more than three decades later the family has decided to use the anniversary of these tragic events in a way that will allow them, as a family, to celebrate the short lives of Kieran and Nuala, and also provide some practical help to those families and people in Ireland who are currently living with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

Mick said 16 members of the O'Connor family are taking part in the walk – aged from eight to 71.

'We came together as a family and decided we would fundraise for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland. Our plan is to have a sponsored walk of Croagh Patrick on July 3. The walk has the active support of Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland and the Wexford branch of the association.

'Three generations of the family, a total of 16 individuals, will take part in the walk ranging in age from their seventies all the way down to Finn, who, at eight years of age, is the youngest grandchild of Mick and Nuala.

'Sponsorship is being sought in advance of the walk and there will be various events planned for our home village of Taghmon to support the fundraising. All funds will go to the charity and there will be no expenses involved in the trip.'

Mick and Nuala and their children Mick, Katrina, Deirdre and Colette will be joined on the trek up Croagh Patrick by their partners and their children.

Fundraising events include a darts tournament in the Castle Bar, Taghmon, on Saturday, a fundraiser in Micko's Bar on Saturday, May 25, a skittles tournament in Alice Brady's on Sunday, June 9, and a table quiz in Jacksie's Bar on Friday, June 28.

Mick and Nuala's daughter Deirdre has been acting as liaison with Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland for the family.

She said: 'I think the biggest surprise to all of us was the realisation that spina bifida is still as common as it is in Ireland. For whatever reason we had believed that it was a condition that had been largely overcome.

'We were stunned to discover that almost 100 children are born in Ireland with spina bifida each year and that Ireland continues to have one of the highest incidences in the world. That puts a lot of strain on families to cope and Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland is there to support them.

'Its family support service provides family support workers nationally to individuals with spina bifida or hydrocephalus, their families, carers and professionals. The aim of the service is to work with members from time of diagnosis or the time of birth through to adulthood. They provide guidance, advocacy, emotional and practical support, conducive to the needs of members, their families and carers.

'The family support workers team also works with healthcare professionals, education professionals and those working within the disability sector by providing information, resources and guidance, ensuring that members receive the best possible provisions from their multidisciplinary team.

'What really impressed us was the work being done by the youth and respite team. It specialises in the development and organisation of youth and respite services nationwide. The team encourages members to enjoy healthy, social, active and fulfilled lifestyles and to avail of all education and employment opportunities.'

The family is grateful for the support of these businesses in their efforts and would also like to thank Declan Power of Promotex in Wexford who has kindly sponsored the clothing for the walk.

Nuala said that all the money raised will go directly to the charity. Any costs involved in organising the event including travel and stay in Westport is being paid for by the family members.

Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so by supporting any of these events or by contacting Deirdre O'Connor at 087 1127522.

Wexford People

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