Martin Kiely Column - Why I’m doing this Walk of Life

Robert Frost (Chairman of the Munster Council of the GAA) presents a cheque to Martin Kiely for the Walk of Life Fund which takes place at a number of venues this weekend
In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely explains why he’s organised his a ‘Walk of Life’ in aid of Milford Hospice.

In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Martin Kiely explains why he’s organised his a ‘Walk of Life’ in aid of Milford Hospice.

I have often said that sport lifts us from our tired lives and allows us to forget the troubles of the day or the week.

It plays such an important part in the culture of Irish life week after week. Normally in this page a hurley, sliotar or football provide the foundation to all stories but this week it will be a little different. Almost a year ago while returning from a training session with the footballers of Corofin in Galway I decided that I would not be involved with any team this year.

I felt the time was right to give something back and it didn’t take long for me to decide who I would do it for. Milford Hospice plays such a key part in the lives of so many families in Limerick and the Midwest in general and it was only right that we do something big to help them. It took me a while to process exactly what we could do for them but after much brain searching I decided to have a walk that everyone could take part in.

I decided to call it “The Walk of Life” and the more I discussed it with various people the better the reaction I was getting.

Our region in Limerick is so fortunate to have the services of such a facility as Milford Hospice, it provides a place for very sick people and their families at the lowest points of their lives. It provides dignity to the dying and comfort to their families.

So many people have used its services and they know deep down just what Milford means to them and how they extended the hand of compassion and care to their loved ones. We all know families that have had to use the services of Milford Hospice, when you speak with them they will tell you just how special they made the hardest time in their lives. Age has no barriers when it comes to sickness, you see, for as much as we think we are in control we are not.

The road map of life is not within our grasp, the GPS system is controlled by a higher power and some families have to deal with great pain and suffering. I have spoken to many people involved in sport and non sports people over the past year who have availed of the services of Milford Hospice.

They utter the words, “It was the most difficult time in our lives but somehow Milford Hospice provided us with the strength and comfort to sustain us during our hardest days.

Over the past twelve months I have visited Milford on many occasions to witness the caring touch of the fantastic staff, they quietly provide care and attention to very sick patients but all the time doing so with great dignity and honesty.

Illness to a loved one has a way of depleting the greatest foundation. Milford Hospice has provided a huge support base to so many ill people and their families and only those who witness it firsthand fully understand. It’s easy to take for granted what Milford Hospice does, we pass its gates and for most people we are unaware of just how good the services are in this world class facility.

I am fully aware of the difficulties that prevail for so many people in society today but we must never take for granted the outstanding work done by Milford Hospice. Life stands still for so many when they are faced with the prospect of fighting major illness. Families are challenged in a way they never thought possible. Without the support of a facility like Milford Hospice the challenges would be ever more difficult.

The people of Limerick and the Midwest in general have never been found wanting when it comes to Milford Hospice. They know only too well the work that they do for the sick both in the hospice but more so in the home where they allow people enjoy the comfort of their own surroundings. Over the past number of months many parishes in Limerick have come on board to help the Walk of Life, some have been outstanding others have struggled in making it happen.

This is the way in most things in life, some rise to the challenge while others are just not able. I have been amazed in the way some of the parishes have rallied their community in an effort to play their part in making the Walk of Life a huge success.

It would of course not have been possible were it not for the help of key people in each division in Limerick. People like Stephen McDonagh in the South, Pat O’Donnell in the West, Noel Noonan in the City and Eibhear O’Dea in the East. They have managed to motivate many of the parishes into action and as mentioned some have responded in such an outstanding way. The idea behind the Walk of Life was to get a small donation from a large number of people and in turn this would raise a major sum of money.

Next Saturday in six locations the Walk of Life will take place. This will provide an opportunity to the people of Limerick and the Midwest region to walk in solidarity with Milford Hospice. I have been contacted by people from all over the country who are making the trip to Limerick to remember loved ones.

It shouldn’t matter whether it’s wet or fine, the message for all is that life is for living and we are fortunate to have the health to do so. People can make a donation on the day if they so wish but by walking they will send the message that they know and respect the great work done by Milford Hospice.

The easy thing to do is to make a donation but walking sends a powerful message to those who look after the very ill in our City, county and region. Next Saturday is an opportunity for all the people of Limerick to say thanks for the outstanding work of the past but also to let Milford Hospice know they will be there to support them into the future.

Many sporting organisations in Limerick have provided help but I would have to say my many friends in the GAA have been outstanding. The Munster Council, through its Chairman Robert Frost, has backed the project from the very start. They made a financial contribution but also made sure we had adverts in all Munster Championship programmes.

Lisa Clancy in Croke Park was also very helpful. I hope people will enjoy the various walks this Saturday, for some it will be a chance to remember those that are no longer with us. For others it will be a chance to let Milford Hospice know in the greatest way possible that Limerick and the Midwest region are on their side.

Clare hurling manger Davy Fitzgerald has agreed to head up the walk in Sixmilebridge and the Liam McCarthy Cup will be available on the day also. John Lynch is looking after the walk in this area and the support has been outstanding.

I would also like to thank the local media for their help and support in promoting the walk. There are no excuses in finding a walk close to you next Saturday - with six in total the distance to travel for most people will be very short. T-shirts, very generously sponsored by Greenes Shoes, will be available in limited numbers so come early to avoid disappointment.