“We first started fundraising for CMRF Crumlin back in 1998. The first ever fundraising event was held in Ayrfield Community Centre, on St. Stephen’s Night. We arranged a dance, we used to call them ‘dances’ back then, and we raised 1,470 pounds – it was pounds back then. We arranged a few dances and then we decided to arrange sponsored swims instead because it can get the whole family involved. We’re in our fifteenth year of fundraising now, can you believe that? The reason we started fundraising for CMRF Crumlin was because a local parishioner, Maeve Killeen, had been diagnosed with leukaemia, a blood cancer, and had been treated in Our Lady’s Hospital when she was a child. Maeve is now over 30 years of age now, she’s a qualified nurse who looks after adults who have intellectual challenges. She’s a remarkable woman. She’s engaged now and she has a great quality of life! Her Dad, Joe, will be here this year for the swim and her Mam, Irene, is in Lourdes, praying for us all.
In the year 2000, a number of us competed in the Women’s Mini Marathon, and we also had a Fun Day in the Laurence O’Toole club grounds. I have to say, every time we do a fundraiser we have a different set of challenges, different memories and different laughs. We actually have great craic. It takes time, effort and work, but everyone involved actually has a great laugh too.
Since 2004, all proceeds raised from the sponsored swim have gone directly to childhood cancer research. To date we’ve raised over €170,000 for this very worthy cause.
The late Fr. Tom Colreavy was a great advocate for all fundraising ventures, but he especially enjoyed the St. Patrick’s Day Swim. Apart from promoting the swim, he had a way about him when it came to asking for sponsorship. He was kind and really understood what we were trying to achieve. On one occasion he even took a sponsorship card to a wedding which he celebrated, arriving home with €1,000. That must have been one hell of a wedding!
This year’s swim was held in his memory and we were delighted that his nieces and nephews will be taking part and that his brother Michael is giving words of encouragement and gratitude to all the participants before the start of the swim.
None of this would have happened without the support of our faithful parishioners, our families and friends, who year after year have been so generous with their time and financial support. Shay O’Reilly, the unofficial Lord Mayor of Ayrfield, is a great help. Shay has put his heart and soul into these events. When you see Shay coming towards you around February or March you’re in trouble! He’ll rope you into something he’s arranging or ask your support in something he’s involved with, no doubt. I’ve seen grown men run from the bar when Shay enters the building. People have great time for him, and he’s a great community man. I suppose events like these really bring people together and it’s a great way of getting to know your neighbours or people you might know to see from your local area!"
Margaret Maher, event organiser, 13th March 2018.