Friday 26 December 2014

Christine Buckley's sons pay emotional tribute to their mother

Published 14/03/2014 | 23:55

Rugby star Cian Healy on his visit to Christine Buckley in hospital.
Rugby star Cian Healy on his visit to Christine Buckley in hospital.
President Higgins with Darragh Buckley and Donal Buckley pictured at St Therese, Mount Merrion for the funeral of Christine Buckley, this morning.
Cynthia Emenike pictured at St Therese, Mount Merrion for the funeral of her sister Christine Buckley, this morning.
Donal Buckley (rt) carrying the coffin at St Therese, Mount Merrion fafter the funeral mass of Christine Buckley, this morning.
Saxophonist Richie Buckley plays 'The Aul' Triangle' at Ronnie Drew's graveside after his funeral Mass yesterday
Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Martin at St Therese, Mount Merrion for the funeral of Christine Buckley this morning.

Christine Buckley’s sons have told how they learned from the survivors of institutional abuse at her funeral that she had saved their lives.

Darragh and Conor paid an emotional tribute to their brave mum who passed away last Tuesday morning from cancer.

Darragh said that many people who came to her funeral on Thursday thanked them for what their mother had done for them.

“People came up to myself and Conor, and said ‘your mum saved our lives,’” he told Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show.

Conor also said: “There was a great turn out.”

He said that the stories that the survivors said were incredible.

“One guy grabbed me, and looked me in the eye and said ‘your mum saved my life.’ I said thanks so much. He said: ‘no, no, I would not be here. I would not be standing here if it wasn’t for your mum.’”

“That does make you feel so proud.”

Mrs Buckley campaigned tirelessly on behalf of victims of institutional abuse for more than 25 years.

The mum-of-three was the daughter of a Nigerian medical student and a separated Dublin woman. She was abandoned at three weeks old and subsequently brought up in the Goldenbridge orphanage.

The 67-year-old was one of the first people to go public about her experience of abuse, and she campaigned tirelessly on behalf of other survivors of institutional abuse.

She spoke privately about her own personal experiences in 1984, and then went public in 1992.

She recounted her memories of Goldenbridge in a drama-documentary, Dear Daughter, broadcast by RTÉ television in 1996.

Darragh said last night: “There is still stuff that she hasn’t said, that she has only told us about, that we probably wouldn’t say either.”

Speaking of their loss, Conor said: “You lose your best friend, your mum, your hero, the love of your life and someone who was such a pillar of strength.  Any problems growing up, there was only one person that could solve them. She was an inspiration for us as well. It’s been really difficult.

“The staff in St Vincent’s were great in the last two weeks. They made life very comfortable for her and we got to enjoy some great moments. We got to say goodbye, which some people don’t get to say to their parents.”

Her husband Donal, daughter Cliona, and her sons led the mourners at her funeral at the Church of St Therese in Dublin’s Mount Merrion.

In 1999, with her close friend Carmel McDonnell Byrne, she set up the Aislinn Centre in Dublin’s city centre which has been helping survivors of institutional abuse and their families through therapy and education ever since.

Fiona Dillon

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