Johnny Mulligan pictured last year Picture: Adrian Butler
HE wanted to walk his daughter up the aisle, and see his partner walk up the aisle towards him.
In recent weeks, Limerick man Johnny Mulligan fulfilled his dream of marrying his long-term partner Joan.
Sadly, he passed away on Sunday after a long health battle, aged 52, in the University Hospital Limerick in Dooradoyle.
The couple wed in the Clayton Hotel on Steamboat Quay, surrounded by close friends and family, in recent weeks, before Johnny was forced to return to the hospital that same evening for dialysis treatment.
From 2014 on, his health suffered numerous setbacks, including a stroke, which led him to spend 50 days in a coma, two internal bleeds and a perforated bowel, and he was later diagnosed with kidney disease.
In all he spent over 10 months in hospital, and lost six stone.
After being released from hospital, he underwent renal dialysis three times a week, for five hours at a time, and would have done so for the rest of his life.
That Christmas in hospital his young children – Evan, now 12, and Katie, eight – and partner Joan Fitzgibbon, a midwife from Dromcollogher, attended at his bedside each and every day, and whispered encouragement and prayers in his ear.
Throughout it all, Johnny remained hopeful for the future.
“My message would be to take every day as it comes and never hold a grudge. I have no bitterness because I can’t reverse this, and there’s no point in being cross. I had 50 years of a good life,” the Janesboro native, who most recently lived in Corbally, said at the time.
He told the Limerick Leader last year that what he had gone through had shown him the depths of generosity and goodwill in others – a neighbour calling over to cut his grass, a friend coming to his home to cut his hair, another calling to bring his son to soccer.
“All I want to do is see my kids grow up, get married and walk my daughter up the aisle. We could all lay down and die, but it’s harder to fight and I have to fight,” he said.
While there were days when he struggled to remain hopeful, he said that when "your eight year-old daughter says ‘Daddy, get up and do your exercise [physio], or your children hold your hand to make sure you don’t fall – that will spur any man on.”
Eugene Phelan, editor of the Limerick Leader and the Limerick Chronicle, said: "The passing of Johnny just shows how cruel life can be. He was a hard working father of two, who had to endure an incredibly tough end to his life, yet he was always in good form.
“He was inspirational in his outlook and he will be sadly missed by a wide circle of friends, but mostly, of course, by his wife Joan and children."
After being discharged from hospital he raised thousands of euro for the Dialysis Equipment Hospital in UHL.
“I never knew what dialysis was until it came to my doorstep. I call the staff there my dialysis angels," he said.
Johnny Mulligan will repose at Griffin’s Funeral Home on Wednesday from 5pm, with removal at 7pm to Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Janesboro. Requiem Mass on Thursday at 1.30pm. Burial afterwards in Castlemungret Cemetery, Mungret.