Wednesday 28 September 2016

Terminally ill Irish woman who inspired Graham Norton: ‘I’d love to invite Graham for a coffee in Charleville to tell him how much I appreciated his comment’

Published 05/08/2016 | 14:06

Anne Herlihy inspired the nation and Graham Norton after her appearance on Liveline
Anne Herlihy inspired the nation and Graham Norton after her appearance on Liveline

An inspiring woman whose profound interview about her battle with ovarian cancer captured the heart of Graham Norton has invited the presenter for coffee in her hometown to thank him for his “wonderful comments”.

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Anne Herlihy (54) spoke about her terminal diagnosis on RTE Radio One’s Liveline yesterday, which Norton said was “one of the most life enhancing and profound pieces of radio” he has ever listened to.

“When I heard that Graham Norton had commented on it, I thought ‘Oh My God! I didn’t think I came across well at all on the radio,” said Anne.

“I would love to meet him for a coffee down in the local. If he’s ever in Charleville, we’re going down to Geary’s bar, sitting out the back and having a coffee just to say how much I appreciated his comments.”

The mother of two, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, featured on Liveline yesterday to speak about the difficulty she faced trying to secure holiday insurance as a person who is living with a terminal illness.

However, the interview turned into an inspirational chat about her admirable bravery, her love of life and her appreciation of Seventies favourites Abba.

Anne Herlihy pictured with her husband on Inch beach
Anne Herlihy pictured with her husband on Inch beach

“I’ve always been as optimistic as I can be. Whether the glass is full or empty I’ve always said, you just have to fill it up,” said Anne.

“I do allow myself to have down moments. You can’t be joyous all the time. I allow myself to have those few minutes once a week, have a bit of a cry, and then I just move on. Especially on sunny days."

The mum, who has three grandchildren, was thrilled when Joe Duffy played Dancing Queen to end her interview yesterday as she said the band’s music always helps her out of a dark place.

“If you’re ever feeling down, you just have to turn on a bit of Abba. As part of my bucket list, we said we’d have an Abba themed night at one of my friends’ houses. It soon got out of hand though, and we held it down in Geary’s pub. It was a fantastic night, and although I forget the words and there’s cancer on my lungs, I still managed to belt out Dancing Queen. We made it a night to remember,” she said

Since she was diagnosed, Anne has been working her way through her bucket list, and even renewed her vows with her husband PJ in Kerry last year.

“There’s a few things on my bucket list now. I’m trying to learn the words to Both Sides, Now, I always wanted to sing it properly. I’d love to get a flying lesson and actually I’ve been offered one, I’m just waiting until I’m well enough.

Anne Herlihy pictured with her husband TJ at the renewal of her vows last year
Anne Herlihy pictured with her husband TJ at the renewal of her vows last year

“I’ve never driven a car so it would be great to get a driving lesson, although I think there would have to be a Garda escort and traffic would have to be cleared if I was let onto the road.

“It would be great to get a nice family portrait too,” she said.

Although Anne believes she’s no more inspirational than other women facing ovarian cancer in Ireland, the Charleville woman said the key to life is to appreciate every moment while you have it.

“Sometimes I get upset thinking ‘Oh God, will I be around here on Inch beach next summer’, but then I give myself a talking to. You have to grab the moments you have. If I’m well and able, my husband and I are on the road, grabbing those moments together,” she said.

Anne Herlihy inspired the nation and Graham Norton after her appearance on Liveline
Anne Herlihy inspired the nation and Graham Norton after her appearance on Liveline

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