Heartbroken Cashel family raise funds for Crumlin hospital

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

A heartbroken Cashel woman and her husband have channelled their pain and sorrow into raising much needed funds for the children’s hospital where their beloved new born baby son was cared for before his death in January.

Marie Prior (nee Gleeson) and her husband John organised a major fundraiser in aid of Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin last Saturday night at the Naval Base in Haulbowline in Cork in memory of their son Ciarán, who passed away at the hospital on Sunday, January 15.

The Baby Ciaran Crumlin fundraiser was a charity auction and raffle with RTE broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan performing the role of master of ceremonies.

It was attended by more than 250 people including about 100 from the Cashel area and has so far raised an estimated E20,000 for Crumlin Hospital through direct proceeds from the event and on-line donations.

All funds raised will go towards purchasing equipment for the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Our Lady’s Hospital.

Ciarán, who had a serious heart defect, was born on January 9 and surpassed the expectations of medical staff by surviving for several days after his birth.

His mother Marie, a staff naval officer at the Naval Service headquarters in Haulbowline, said they hoped to fund a piece of medical equipment to the unit in memory of Ciarán. Their motivation was to give something back to the hospital that did so much for them and to commemorate their son.

“It’s about bringing something positive to something awful,” said Marie, who lives in Rathcormack, Co. Cork with John, whom she married a year ago.

“There are no words to describe what the staff at Crumlin Hospital did for us. Ciaran did phenomenally well compared to what we had been told. We were told he wouldn’t make it to full term and that if he was born he would only survive for a very short while.

“He was very strong and healthy except for his heart. He astounded us and the medical staff. We got a week with our son we thought we wouldn’t get and that was really thanks to the staff at the hospital in the way they treated Ciarán. They gave us memories with our little boy that we will always have.”

Marie, who is daughter of Noel and Una Gleeson, was really touched by the empathy and dedication of the the medical staff, who cared for their son. “They talk about the HSE but the people working on the frontline are astounding,” she declared.

Ciaran’s death wasn’t the only sorrow to hit Marie and her family in January. Her grandmother Ann (Nancy) Clancy from Cashel died just two days before Ciaran passed away and the family had a joint service in Cashel for both of them.

Marie and John have been overwhelmed by the support they have received from the public for their fundraising effort and they wish to thank all, who have donated to and supported the cause to date.

She thanked all the people from Cashel, who travelled to Haulbowline for the fundraiser, including many members of Larkspur Park Tennis Club.

Miriam O’Callaghan volunteered to act as MC for the charity auction and raffle after hearing of Marie and John’s tragic loss when they contacted RTE seeking to get some show tickets donated for the charity auction and raffle. Marie was one of three female members of the Defence Forces interviewed on Miriam’s Saturday night chat show last summer.

Marie said Miriam’s speech at the fundraiser highlighted how despite the negativity of the recession, there is still a strong community spirit in Ireland, and she felt the phenomenal support they have received from family, friends and colleagues over the past few months really highlighted this.

“You don’t know the support you have until you come up against something like this. For us it’s about trying to keep going... Your heart is broken but something like this (the fundraising campaign) gives you a focus, it strengthens you and we just have to hope that we won’t go through something like this again,” she concluded.

Donations to the Baby Ciarán Crumlin Hospital Fund can be made by logging onto www.cmrf.org/sponsorshipPage/show/936.