Brendan loses locks in tribute to his mother

Brendan McKenna holding a photograph of himself as he looked before his charity headshave. Photo: John Reidy
Brendan McKenna holding a photograph of himself as he looked before his charity headshave. Photo: John Reidy

IT was a sacrifice he would willingly make again in the morning when Tanavalla man Brendan McKenna shaved fifteen years of long hair off for the Hospice which made such a difference to his mother in her final days.

Brendan's mom and Lyreacrompane native Eileen died aged just 63 in December following a battle with cancer. Such was the love Brendan has for her, however, that he made good on a vow to cut his precious locks in a fundraiser - one that ended up going far beyond the usual headshave event.

It did so as it also saw Eileen's brothers Brendan and Jer Mulvihill shaving their locks (including a 40-year-old smig by Jer) and Brendan's brother Jerry, Eileen's goddaughter Marie Mulvihill and Eileen's nephew Seamus Mulvihill shaving their pates clean as well.

Not only that, but the family raised an incredible €11,000 plus in a fitting memorial to a fantastic mother, sister, aunt and godmother.

"I was very close to my mom always and like a lot of mothers she always wanted to see me with short hair, she used even offer to pay me to have it cut," he remembered fondly. "It was after mom got sick I decided I'd cut it off for her in a fundraiser for the Hospice. The Hospice was just incredible to mom in her final days, they are worth their weight in gold and I'd do the headshave all over again in the morning," Brendan said.

He said that the response to the fundraiser around Listowel and in Eileen's home of Lyreacrompane was unreal. "It was amazing, people were just so generous. We thought initially we would have been doing well to raise €2,000 or €3,000, but to have managed over €11,000 is something else and that's down to the generosity of everyone in aid of this cause."

One other thing that's brightened his life as the result of the fundraiser is the level of banter it has generated. Not only did Brendan shave off a 22-inch ponytail cultivated over 15 years, but he also shaved off a bushy beard sprouting since last Decemeber.

"I'd say I would have been divorced and put out of the house if I hadn't cleaned up my act" he laughed. "They've all been calling me 'Our Lord' and a comment saying 'Our Lord walks again' even went up on Twitter!" Thankfully, partner Caroline McCarthy has found her Brendan at last - hiding all along beneath the foliage.

"She's over the moon!" Brendan said, with a healthy measure of relief. Best of all the whole thing reaffirmed one family's love for an extraordinary woman who was, and who remains, one of the most important figures in their lives.