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Wednesday 24 January 2018

Liam's mum: 'We must live life to the full to honour our children'

Heartbroken mum of Liam Heffernan told mourners at her son's funeral that Liam and his sister Saoirse had taught herself and her husband how precious life is

Mary Heffernan leading mourners at the funeral of her son Liam
Mary Heffernan leading mourners at the funeral of her son Liam
Liams mother with Liam's blanket as she led mourners at Liam's funeral today as hundreds turned out to pay their respects
Mary Heffernan, leads mourners at little Liam's funeral today as hundreds turned out to pay their respects
Mary Heffernan, mother of Liam
Dad Tony Heffernan posted this heartbreaking picture on Twitter of little Liam lying very ill in Kerry General Hospital.
Liam and Saoirse Heffernan before Batten's Disease took hold.
Tony and Mary Heffernan and their son Liam
Shane O’Connor, Kadie Colbert and Paschal Keane with Tony and Liam Heffernan.
Liam with his mother Mary Heffernan.
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

THE heartbroken mother of Liam Heffernan said she and her husband were going to "live life to the full" to honour their children.

Mary Heffernan said her "superhero little Liamo" had taught them how precious life was and it had been a privilege to be his parents.

"The most common question Tony and I get asked is, 'how do ye keep going' and the answer is simple, life is worth living," she told mourners at his Mass of the Angels.

"After watching our two beautiful children struggle to hang on to every second of their short lives it is our duty to live life to the full in their honour."

Liam (5) died in his parents' arms at the family home in Keel, Co Kerry on Sunday morning, finally losing his battle with Batten's Disease - an extremely rare and degenerative brain disorder.

His older sister Saoirse (5) died of the same disease in January 2011.

Their mother spoke of how their "normal" happy life as a family came to an end after Saoirse was diagnosed with Batten's Disease in September 2009 and their only other child received the same diagnosis five months later.

She said Liam had come into the world six weeks early, typical of their little boy, always in a hurry.

Doctors told them he would be in hospital for months but one of their happiest memories was the day they brought him home 19 days later.

She said his big sister was so excited they thought she would burst and she hugged, kissed and cuddled him so much her mother told her to be gentle as he was only a little baby.

"She looked up at me with her big eyes and said, 'mommy he's mine'," she recalled.

She said when Saoirse's life ended in January 2011 it was "our Liamo" who had kept them going.

Liam had undergone brian surgery at the Weill Cornell University in New York in May 2011 and for the following six months he began to thrive.

"We dared to believe the treatment had worked and that we had cured our boy but it wasn't to be," she said.

Family friend Fr Kevin McNamara who concelebrated Mass of the Angels along with Keel Parish Priest Fr Luke Roche, said he was grateful to Tony and Mary Heffernan because they had "pricked the conscience of society" making us aware of Battens and reminding us that it wasn't just charity to look after the sick, it was our Christian obligation.

He said today they handed back a "truly angelic and saintly little person" who had given so much in   his short life and was now united in heaven with his sister.

"Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children and I hope they're wrecking a little bit of heaven today as they were limited here in what they could do but I hope they really let fly today. But I know they will never forget their mum and dad, their granny and granddad and all the family who were special to them. May they rest in peace," he said.

To the strains of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' the small white coffin was carried from the church and Liam was laid to rest in the family plot alongside his sister Saoirse.


*Donations can be made to: The Saoirse Foundation, Address: AIB Tralee Co Kerry Account No: 85130187; Sort Code: 93-62-19; IE13AIBK93621985130187;  Swift Code: AIBKIE2D

Postal Donations can be made Bee For Battens, The Saoirse Foundation, Castldrum, Castlemaine, Co Kerry, Ireland

You can also donate be sending old mobile phones  free of charge to: The Bee For Battens Appeal, Freepost, PO BOX 7958, Dublin 11.

More details available on

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