Sunday 26 February 2017

Axel's son launches poignant campaign to remember people we've loved and lost

Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Tony (11) and Dan Foley (8) with CJ Stander after they joined the Munster squad on the pitch at Thomond Park. Photo: Seb Daly
Tony (11) and Dan Foley (8) with CJ Stander after they joined the Munster squad on the pitch at Thomond Park. Photo: Seb Daly

Anthony 'Axel' Foley's young son is organising a campaign to encourage people who have lost loved ones to keep their memories alive.

Tony Foley (11) has created a Facebook page to support his #8masses4no8 campaign and ask people to attend eight Masses for the next eight Sundays, and to light a candle for those who passed away.

His father was a No 8 for Munster, the rugby club where he became a hero as a player and a coach.

Adding further significance to the beginning of the campaign, Axel would have turned 43 on Sunday, the first day of Tony's plan.

The Facebook page - Axel Foley Memorial - was launched shortly after midday yesterday and is already getting huge traction.

Tony has asked people to upload pictures of the candles they have lit, either for their loved ones or for his father.

The page explained that the young man and his family had been overwhelmed by the support they received since his father passed away in Paris on October 16.

"Tony has been busy thinking of a tribute to his dad and has asked that this page be set up in his memory," the page states.

A photo of Anthony Foley sits among tributes outside the stadium in Limerick. Photo: Sportsfile
A photo of Anthony Foley sits among tributes outside the stadium in Limerick. Photo: Sportsfile

"He wants to use it to ask people, who want to show their support, to attend Mass on each of the next eight Sundays to pray for people who have died and while there to offer a prayer for his dad also.

"The No 8 is, of course, a special number for Tony and his family, but the eight Sundays also bring us up to that special family time of year, Christmas."

The first to post on the site was Tony's mother Olive, who confirmed it was her son's idea and that he thought it up after returning from Thomond Park.

There were emotional scenes in the stadium as Munster beat Glasgow Warriors, the first game since Foley's sudden passing. Tony and his brother Dan (8) joined the team on the pitch after the game to sing 'Stand Up and Fight' following the 38-17 victory.

"Tony was inspired by what he had experienced in Thomond Park and came up with the idea of getting people to go to Mass to pray for deceased family or friends, including his father, in the run-up to Christmas," his mother said.

"The eight-week cycle is fitting as his father will, of course, forever be associated with the number eight. It's a lovely idea. Tony even created the hash-tag, edited the image for the page to include the hash-tag and launched the page today.

"It's getting a great response and he's delighted."

Meanwhile, Anthony Foley's family were presented with the man-of-the-match award from Saturday's Champions Cup game by the recipient, Munster player Tyler Bleyendaal.

Bleyendaal made his way to the Foley home in Killaloe on Sunday, where he gave Anthony's wife Olive the crystal vase he received following Munster's victory.

Irish Independent

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