Tuesday 21 November 2017

'Cystic fibrosis is a gruelling illness' - Riverdance star on how Irish dancing has helped her in the battle against CF

Katie Murphy prepares for Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre
Katie Murphy prepares for Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre

Sean O’Grady

Cystic fibrosis sufferer Katie Murphy has credited her love of Irish dancing with helping her cope with the condition.

Katie (27), from Mullingar, was diagnosed with the genetic illness when she was three-years-old.

However, she quickly discovered that dancing allowed her to keep it under control.

"It primarily affects the lungs with a build-up of sticky mucus which can lead to quite serious illnesses," she said.

"It was quite fitting that I spent so much of my life jumping around doing Irish dancing. It might have made my Irish dancing harder on me, but it kept me healthy."

Katie is performing in this summer’s Riverdance, which has Cystic Fibrosis Ireland as its charity partner.

The show will be at the Gaiety Theatre from June 21 to September 3, with Katie performing on the opening night.

"I’m really excited. It’s every little girl’s dream, I think. I’m actually training at the moment to become an Irish dancing teacher as well," she said.

"It’s a wonderful art and it’s a great way of getting young people active."

Katie believes the hardest part of living with CF is maintaining her health routine.

"It’s gruelling," she said. "If you do every treatment you’re prescribed, it’s three hours a day nearly between breathalysers and airway clearance and making sure you’re getting good nutrition.

"There’s never a day off. That’s the hardest part. I’m in a good routine and I can’t break it. You have to be very disciplined."

Ireland has the highest rate of CF in the world with around 1,200 sufferers.

"It’s technically still a very rare disease. We have the highest carrier rate anywhere – one in 19 people in Ireland are carriers of the CF gene," said Katie.

Some believe the small gene pool as a result of living on an island may have contributed to Ireland’s high rate.

"They don’t really know why. It’s often considered a Celtic illness," said Katie.

"We’re an island, so the gene pool hasn’t diluted like it might have in Europe with lots of nationalities coming together.

"It is very much an Irish illness, and we’re becoming world leaders in CF care."

Katie is the first person with CF to perform with Riverdance in its 23-year existence.

Tickets for the new season of Riverdance are available at

ticketmaster.ie.

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