Special moment: Brave Vicky lights up Limerick to get in Christmas spirit
"I didn't think I'd be here, to be honest," said brave Vicky Phelan as she switched on Limerick's Christmas lights with her family to celebrate a remarkable turnaround in the mother-of-two's outlook from a year ago.
Ms Phelan, who came to national prominence when she exposed the CervicalCheck scandal with her High Court action, said the excitement of switching on the festive lights with her children Amelia (12) and Darragh (7) and her husband Jim, "makes it all the more special for us this year".
"The biggest reason for me to be excited was that I didn't think I'd be here, to be honest, at the start of the year," said the 43-year-old, who has been given a terminal cancer diagnosis.
"To be able to come in to Light Up Limerick in the good of my health and (have) no pain, it's great, because last Christmas I wasn't really well at all.
"I'm revelling in it all, to see all the crowds here, the support on Twitter, I can't believe how many people are here."
Organisers said more than 20,000 people attended the ceremony.
For the Phelans, they got into the festive spirit early to celebrate still being together.
"My son Darragh has been looking forward to it since he found out we would be turning on the Christmas lights, we bought Christmas jumpers and hats," said Ms Phelan.
"The plan is to have a lovely Christmas at home with family and friends."
The family said they were "honoured" to be special guests of Limerick City and County Council for the 'Light Up Limerick' event.
Ms Phelan has defied the odds and continues to campaign for women affected by the CervicalCheck scandal as well as other patients who are left to cope terminal diagnosis.
Speaking before the event, she said: "It means an awful lot to me to be asked.
"My children absolutely love everything to do with Christmas, so to be chosen to get Christmas started for such a special event will really get them in the Christmas spirit very early."
Thousands of people packed into O'Connell Street where, earlier in the day, the Liveable Limerick group had participants running in a series of 100-metre Christmas dashes around the city centre to raise much-needed funds for homeless charities Novas and the Peter McVerry Trust.
Mayor of Limerick Cllr James Collins reminded everyone that "Christmas is a time for families".
"It is always a fantastic occasion and shows Limerick at its very best," he added.
The Toots Christmas Train has stopped off in Limerick for the festive season and will travel around the city from November 30 to December 23 stopping off at festive events, traditional food and craft markets, and exciting entertainment.