Saturday 18 November 2017

Tears of joy on poignant Daffodil Day for cancer survivor Mary

Fiachra Mooney with his mum Mary, who has been given the all-clear from cancer. Picture: MARK CONDREN
Fiachra Mooney with his mum Mary, who has been given the all-clear from cancer. Picture: MARK CONDREN
Fiachra Mooney gets a kiss from his mum Mary, who has been given the all-clear from cancer. Picture: MARK CONDREN
Pupils from St. Finian's National School in Newcastle, Co Dublin, who formed the largest human daffodil in their school yard for daffodil day. Picture: Mark Condren
"Daff Man" James Gilleran presents daffodils to Bride Ormond from Lucan as he sells Daffodils on O'Connell Street to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

AS businesswoman Mary Mooney watched her son join 399 other children in the formation of a beautiful big daffodil, she welled up with tears of relief and profound gratitude.

Given the all-clear from breast cancer just last Wednesday after battling the disease over the past year, Daffodil Day this year was more significant than she could ever have dreamt.

Things were very different from the dark vista she was facing on the same day last year, when the mother of one from Celbridge, Co Kildare, had been diagnosed just two weeks previous and had yet to tell her son, Fiachra (11).

While out grocery shopping that day, Fiachra spotted volunteers collecting for Daffodil Day amid torrential rain and asked her to donate some money "for cancer".

"I tried to stop myself from crying – I thought the world had ended," said Mary (47).

Shortly after that, she and her husband, Daragh, took Fiachra away for a week to Waterford to break the news gently. "We didn't want to tell him in the house because we didn't want him to associate it with bad news – we didn't want him to be able to say 'This is the room where I heard mum had cancer,'" Mary explained.

The family stopped by the side of the road on the way down to go for a walk and it was then the couple told their young son the devastating news.

"He went as white as a ghost and we sat in the car and we all cried," Mary recalled.

The past traumatic year saw Mary go through moments of profound sadness – but there were also moments of profound joy, she explained, with the family taking on the gruelling schedule of chemotherapy together as a group effort.

Through it all, Mary realised that she could survive this.

And 12 months later, she has not only survived but believes she is even stronger. "I used to be a worrier – not any more," she laughed.

The family are looking forward to another trip to Waterford this Easter. "We're going to the same place where she told me," said Fiachra. "But this time instead of being upset, we'll be jumping around," he laughed.

To celebrate, the fifth-class pupil at St Finian's NS in Newcastle, Co Dublin, devised the plan to fill the schoolyard to make a giant human daffodil to raise money for cancer research, raising around €1,000 for Daffodil Day.


Organisers of the event at the Irish Cancer Society said that while it was too early to tell, fundraising seemed to have bounced back after last year's disaster because of bad weather.

"There are a lot more notes, the coin bags are heavier and the money isn't wet," was the early verdict given by Niamh Ni Chonghaile, head of finance at the charity.

So far things are "much better than last year" but as it takes time for the bags to come in, at the moment the take still looks to be about 20pc behind 2012 levels of €3.2m.

Cities, towns and villages across the country glimmered with yellow trumpets of daffodils on a largely grey day as the nation turned out in force for a very good cause.

With cancer affecting one in three Irish people, no family has been spared.

In Dublin, Molly Malone had even switched from selling cockles and mussels – with the basket of the iconic statue at the bottom of Grafton Street filled with the flowers.

At the Iveagh Gardens off Harcourt Street, over 2,500 paper daffodils had sprung up overnight to form a Garden of Hope, carrying poignant messages of hope, sadness and gratitude.

Even the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, had written out a message – but the organisers protected his privacy by not singling it out.

Some of the messages were heartbreakingly short: "For Susan, Missing You X" read one.

In Bealnamorrive near Macroom, Co Cork, a mammoth 11-hour coffee morning had everyone buzzing.

There were balloon releases in Limerick and coffee mornings in Galway as volunteers redoubled their efforts to make up for the disappointment of last year.

Irish Independent

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