Health minister James Reilly was the last person Mary Quinlan expected to show up to her autism fundraiser last Saturday. But stranger things have happened.
Some thought the searing heat was causing hallucinations when they spotted the bearded minister entering Maryâ€™s magnificent garden, in Priorstown, Kilsheelan. An avid gardner her entire life, Mary decided to hold a garden party in aid of the Sunflower Autism Class, which her grandaughter attends in Tuam.
Minister Reilly who was travelling to Moneygall with his wife Dorothy, spotted a sign for the fundraiser at the Kilheffernan Rd Roundabout, explained Ailish Condon, a neighbour of Maryâ€™s who was at the party. â€¨â€œEveryone was shocked, we were sure that someone had organised it,â€ she said.
â€œAt first I thought it was a better looking version of the minister,â€ laughed Ailish.
â€œThey always support anything to do with autism, as they have an autistic child too,â€ said Ailish, who is also head of maternity in South Tipp General Hospital (STGH). The minister was very friendly and chatted with locals for over two hours. He and his wife also made an undisclosed donation helping Mary and her friends raise over â‚¬1,000 for the cause.