THE TEENAGE brother of a young West Limerick woman who died tragically almost two years ago has sparked a massive internet campaign calling for free screening for sudden adult death syndrome.
Sixteen-year-old Kieran Herlihy from Strand began his online campaign as part of a school project, but it has since gained the support of over 26,000 people. Kieran’s 20-year-old sister Niamh died suddenly in April 2011. Her death was met with an outpouring of grief in her native parish, and over 6,000 people attended her removal on Easter weekend.
Kieran, a student at Desmond College, Newcastle West, said that the unexpected explosion of support for his Facebook campaign has galvanised his hopes for free screening for sudden adult death syndrome in young people.
“I started up the page about a month ago. We were doing a project in school, and I just said it’d be something people might get behind. It’s still going. We’ve about 26,500 followers now. I didn’t think I’d get that many at all.”
Kieran’s fledgling campaign has already received national media attention, having been mentioned on air by RTE presenter Ryan Tubridy during on his 2FM show.
The campaign has tragic resonance in West Limerick – as well as Niamh Herlihy, 15-year-old Darra O’Donovan from Gardenfield, Monagea died suddenly in December 2011. A talented hurler, he was a member of the Limerick under-15 hurling panel and was also a student at Desmond College.
Kieran said that having been buoyed by the groundswell of support his campaign has received on Facebook, he hopes to bring his message directly to officials at the Department of Health.
“We’re hoping to meet with [local Fine Gael TD] Patrick O’Donovan when we go back. We’re going to try and get a meeting up in the Dail and see what we can do. Hopefully at the end of this, [screening] will be free. Everyone seems to be up for it.”
Niamh Herlihy passed away only a few weeks before her 21st birthday in 2011. A student at Cork Institute of Technology, she was found dead at the house she was staying in in Bishopstown, Cork. Her older brother Sean is a former member of the Limerick senior hurling panel, while her parents Liam and Marie are popular and well-known in the local community.
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