Saturday 17 November 2018

'Memories to treasure' - seriously-ill grandmother enjoys bucket-list trip to Ireland thanks to generous strangers

Kathryn Doyon at Doo Lough Valley in Connemara
Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathryn Doyon at Doo Lough Valley in Connemara Photo: Joe Ormonde
(L-R) Pauline McDermott and Kathryn Doyon Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathryn was serenaded by harpist Emma Martin in Cabra Castle Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathryn with her son Chris in Westport, Co Mayo Photo: Joe Ormonde
Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathryn at the grave of Irish writer WB Yeats Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathryn with her children Chris and Felon at the Cliffs of Moher Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathryn Doyon Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathryn enjoyed a bucket list trip around Ireland Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

A SERIOUSLY-ILL grandmother who enjoyed a bucket list trip to Ireland thanks to complete strangers has said that she is "absolutely floored" by people's generosity.

Irish-American Kathryn Doyon (54), from Plymouth in Massachusetts, was diagnosed with stage four liver and colon cancer in December 2016.

Mother-of-three Kathryn underwent 12 chemotherapy sessions over the following 12 months and although she says she "responded really well" to the treatment, she has been told that she will never be cancer free.

Kathryn said she is all too aware of statistics that just 50pc of patients with stage four colon cancer survive to two years after diagnosis and by five years this figures drops further to around 11pc.

(L-R) Pauline McDermott and Kathryn Doyon Photo: Joe Ormonde
(L-R) Pauline McDermott and Kathryn Doyon Photo: Joe Ormonde

When she became unwell she knew one of the things she wanted to do was to visit Ireland, her great-great-grandparents emigrated to the US during the famine from Galway, Sligo, Kerry, Louth, Cork, Limerick, Monaghan and Donegal and her family is fiercely proud of their rooots.

She follows the popular Ireland of a Thousand Welcomes Facebook page and when she commented on a photo that she would love to come here one day, the page's founder Pauline McDermott decided to help.


Pauline, who is from Cavan, pledged to help make Kathryn's dream come true, she raised more than €4,000 through a GoFundMe page, she also arranged with hotels, tourism attractions, restaurants and smaller businesses for Kathryn to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime holiday here.

Kathryn and her son Christopher (23) and daughter Fallon (19) arrived here on April 25 for their ten-day holiday and visited places including the Ring of Kerry, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, Cork, Westport, Cavan and Sligo.

Kathryn said she has relished every minute of the trip.

She told Independent.ie: "I can't believe this happened, the weather has been terrific, it's rained a tiny bit but we couldn't have asked for nicer weather.

"We got to go on a boat to see Fungie the dolphin, that was an amazing experience and everyone on the boat was so helpful.

"We went to the Cliffs of Moher, those are spectacular, I can't imagine coming to Ireland and not seeing them.

Kathryn with her children Chris and Felon at the Cliffs of Moher
Photo: Joe Ormonde
Kathryn with her children Chris and Felon at the Cliffs of Moher Photo: Joe Ormonde

"I just can't believe I'm here, Ireland has exceeded my expectations, I knew it would be great and people say how wonderful it is but not only is the country beautiful but the people are too.

"Everyone seems so eager to help, they've all been so friendly - I think everyone should come to Ireland.

"I am having a wonderful time and I think my kids are too, I really have nothing negative to say about Ireland."

She also spoke about how nice it was to finally meet good Samaritan Pauline in person after months of contact.

"It is fantastic that I got to experience this with my children, it wouldn't have happened without Pauline.

"It's been fantastic to meet Pauline, she's fantastic and I love her.

"I'm floored that so many people have helped me, I certainly didn't expect any of this, they're complete strangers that have made this trip possible, it's amazing.

"I do get overwhelmed, it's definitely going to be memories to treasure, Ireland really was somewhere I always wanted to visit," Kathryn said.

Pauline said that she is thrilled that the holiday was a success.

She said: "She's really enjoying it, she's a wonderful woman and I'm so blessed that she is in my life."

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