Powerful friendship inspires a lasting tribute to Caitriona at South Tipperary General Hospital

Eamon Lacey

Reporter:

Eamon Lacey

Email:

elacey@nationalist.ie

A powerful friendship between three women from Fethard who all had to battle cancer has inspired the provision of valuable supports for people with cancer in South Tipperary.
Caitriona Boland, Mary Hurley and Mary Shelly, grew up together as young firls in Fethard and later in life were all faced with having to face taking on cancer.
Sadly Caitriona, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.
On the day her friend Mary Hurley finished her treatment for breast cancer Caitriona, who had been doing well, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and she passed away in February of 2020.
“Catriona helped me so much during my treatment and also our friend Mary Shelly who had breast cancer too. We are three local girls from Fethard who grew up together, but as we grew older our lives got busy and we weren’t in touch as much, before breast cancer brought us back together,” said Mary.
“Catriona was a fantastic mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, a loyal friend and an absolutely beautiful person. I wanted to do something to honour her memory and thought of a walk. I contacted Catriona’s daughter Chloe and she was delighted with the idea. Myself, Chloe, Mairead Foley another good friend of Catriona’s and Mary Shelly began organising the Catriona Boland Memory Walk,” said Mary.
The walk originally was to be from Fethard to Drangan which would pass all of Catriona’s homes during her lifetime.
With Covid, the walk took place in groups of 15 and the planned route was altered. Fethard people walked halfway to Drangan and the Drangan side walked halfway to Fethard and back with both groups never meeting.
The walk took place on Sunday August 30.
“The communities of Fethard, Drangan and Cloneen came out in force in memory of our beloved Catriona, the sun shone, people chatted and looked at the lovely pictures of Catriona along the way. It was a memorable day and i it was a lovely tribute to the love we all have for Catriona,” said Mary.
“Catriona got the best care, as did I and Mary Shelly in the Clonmel Oncology Unit. We wanted to give something back in Catriona’s memory, firstly to people who knew and cared for Catriona but also to the wider community whom cancer affects and continues to affect. We wanted a bit of luxury, comfort and brightness to surround cancer patients,” said Mary.
They decided to use the funds raised by the walk to purchase specialised oncology chairs to give people some comfort when receiving treatment.
“We visited the oncology unit today and I’m proud to say that we have done that, it was emotional, so sad and yet we have achieved a bright space in Catriona’s memory. She was so bright, vivacious, warm and we miss her everyday but her memory will live on forever.
We are so grateful to all who donated, walked, sponsored and helped to keep us safe on the day.
We raised €22003.54 and purchased 6 new oncology chairs, 3 in raspberry and 3 in sapphire blue. A plaque has also been erected in the oncology unit in Catriona’s memory,” said Mary.