Mercy mission: Magic mix of friends and foes and a miracle of loaves and ham

    Vicky and Jim Phelan with their children, Amelia and Darragh

    By Jimmy Rhatigan

    Pics: Donal Foley

    AT MIDNIGHT on Friday a band of loving women, men and children walked together in love.

    A gathering of communities from a South East region that is home to the Three Sister Rivers of the Barrow, Nore and Suir ambled with pride on the winding byways of Mooncoin.

    They were on a mercy mission to raise funds to send one of their own to the United States for life-saving treatment.

    You’ll Never Walk Alone was the message to brave South Kilkenny woman, Vicky Phelan

    The cause was a mighty one and the great hope is that specialist treatment in the US will give a new life to the 43 year old mother of two who has been battling cancer for years.

    Love abounded as community and family pride made for a beautiful mix on an occasion of passion and support for a family that has won the hearts and minds of Kilkenny, Waterford and Tipperary families.

    Two days only later, many of those who had walked under the same banner were then in opposite camps, rivals, foes even, in the helter skelter of hurling as the men of Kilkenny and Tipperary were locked in battle in the local religion that is called hurling.

    The notion that opposites attract was fully borne out as friends and neighbours who worship at different altars of sport became one when pouring out their hearts in support of a sponsored walk.

    Brave mother jets to US for treatment

    Contrasting emotions among people with a common goal led to up to 500 stepping it out to make the point that there is regional respect for brave housewife, Vicky Phelan, her ever supportive husband, Jim and their children, Amelia, aged 12 and Darragh, aged 7.

    Among those stepping it out were Vicky’s beloved parents, Gaby and John Kelly, members of her extended family and admiring neighbours and the main driving forces behind the walk, mother and daughter Kathleen and Tracy Driscoll with fellow co-ordinator, Chris O’Sullivan, a son of Tipperary now domiciled by the Suir.

    Vicky is on stand-by for a flight to the US.

    Great neighbours: Kathleen Driscoll and her daughter, Tracy who spearheaded the walk project

    She is waiting on the result of one blood test only and a green light will see her up, up and away.

    She has been living in Limerick for four years. She is happy in her adopted home but is still in love with the birthplace of the Rose of Mooncoin as she commutes almost daily to her work in Waterford Institute of Technology.

    A majority of her relatives live in Mooncoin and Carrigeen. A family bond has never been broken and neighbours and friends remain remain integral parts of a chain of love.

    Among those making life safe and comfortable for the walkers who started out on the circa 4k course from near The Rose of Mooncoin Pub were Waterford River Rescue and Red Cross, Mooncoin Gardai, Peter Brennan Haulage Contractor who provided safety vans, SuperValu, Carrick-on-Suir who donated 40 sliced pans, packed with Countrystyle, Granny ham by a volunteer committee.

    The near miracle of the loaves and ham was supported by Liam Walsh who dispensed coffee and tea from his mobile unit.

    Before the midnight stroll, The Rose of Mooncoin was rocking as Noddy Jacobs and Jamie Dunphy from Portlaw and Mooncoin respectively provided music and song.

    What some might term a novel 12 o’clock rock went off without a hitch, with a majority of the participants wearing high viz jackets.

    Pardon the pun, but the mood was light and easy on the walk in the dark wild side that focused on the brighter side of a caring community that delights in sitting under the umbrella of the Three Sisters of the Barrow, Nore and Suir.

    Don’t mention the hurling!