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FAREWELL TO MY DEAR PAL NICKY, A VI BRANT AND STRONG WOMAN

PEOPLE have been remembering my friend Nicky McFadden, the Fine Gael TD who passed away on Tuesday.

They've paid tribute to her as a TD who fought a courageous battle against Motor-Neurone disease while raising both awareness and funds to tackle this cruel disease.

Many will remember Nicky for her public work, but I'll remember her as the vibrant, funny and strong woman who has been taken from us far too early at only 51 years of age.

DOTING

I'll remember her for being a doting mother of two who was also a devoted grandmother. And I'll never forget how she always greeted everyone with her wide and friendly smile.

I first met Nicky in 1999 when we were both candidates for that year's local elections. We hit it off straight away and discovered that we had a lot in common.

She was one month older than me. Her father was a councillor, as was mine – in fact, they were friends. I actually knew her dad personally as we both worked in the ESB throughout the 1980s.

Nicky and I also each had two children, a boy and a girl, and had many conversations about their approach to adulthood.

In all that time, she showed a sunny optimism, a sense of fun and a great devotion to her daughter Caren and son Eoin.

Our paths crossed many times after we were both elected to our respective county councils, Nicky to Westmeath and myself to Offaly.

But it wasn't all work – we had great fun too as Nicky was popular, great company and always ready for a laugh. In 2007 we both ran for Seanad Eireann, and while I didn't match her success in that election I was delighted to call her Senator McFadden.

DILIGENCE

Nicky's four years in the Seanad were marked by the tenacity that got her elected to the Dail. She displayed diligence and hard work in addressing the concerns of her constituents.

Nicky and I were both elected as TDs for the first time in 2011. We were delighted with our success while being fully aware that a difficult term of office lay ahead.

Neither of us had any notion of how short it would be for Nicky. It was that summer that she began sharing with some of us that she wasn't feeling well and was having investigations carried out.

We hoped and prayed for the best. The birth of her granddaughter Matilda brought her great joy. The baby was a beacon of light during that dark time. Nicky soldiered on valiantly until the end.

You can learn an awful lot about someone's character in the manner in which they deal with adversity. So, what did we learn about Nicky McFadden?

We learned that she was brave as she faced the kind of news that no one should have to face.

We learned that she was determined to squeeze every ounce out of what time she had left and spend it with the people who were important to her.

We also learned an example in grace, as Nicky showed us how a person facing the most difficult of circumstances can face them with strength, fortitude and an acceptance of – as the Taoiseach called it – "life as it is lived".

I am proud to have known her, and like an awful lot of people I will miss her greatly.

MARCELLA CORCORAN KENNEDY IS A FINE GAEL TD


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