Running the length of Ireland for hospital staff

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A TALLAGHT woman is in the middle of running distances with her family that, on completion, will be equal to the length of the entire island of Ireland, in memory of her late father and to raise funds for ICU staff in Tallaght University Hospital.

Jennifer Breen, 28, from Springfield, and her four siblings, who live across the border in Lurgan, joined forces beginning last Friday to all walk and run several distances totalling 761km – the length of Ireland – throughout the month of May, marking the five-month anniversary of their father John Breen’s passing which occurs on May 23.

Jennifer Breen with her late father John Bree2 compressor

Jennifer Breen with her late father John Breen

John’s family decided to undertake the challenge as, even though they have to remain apart during the course of the pandemic, they wanted to do something together in memory of their dad.

The family also wanted to raise funds for the staff of Tallaght University Hospital, who looked after John when he passed away last December at age 73, after succumbing to a sudden illness.

“We just want everyone to come together and remember Dad,” Jennifer told The Echo, “and to recognise the work that the nurses in the hospital did when he was in there.

“I just want to give [the hospital staff] something – they looked after us as much as they did my dad.

“They always cheered him up and made him smile, and they spent so much time talking to him and getting to know him.”

Jennifer set up a GoFundMe page last week, which at the time of going to print had raised over €2,800, and she said that she has been overwhelmed by the support from the community, including her teammates from Thomas Davis GAA Club.

“We just threw the idea out there and then everyone wanted to get involved,” she said. “I was completely overwhelmed.”

On May 23, people north and south of the border will be donning their running shoes in memory of John and to raise funds for the hospital by embarking on a 5k run or walk, and all are invited to take part and to take photos of their endeavour.

Reflecting on her father, and what he would’ve thought of the fundraising his family is doing, Jennifer said: “He was the sort of person that you could never have an argument with – he was so kind, so generous and always smiling.

“He loved his grandkids and his kids. He was a big softie, so I’m sure he’d be crying his eyes out with pride, and would be happy to see us trying to help the hospital.”

Donations can be made online at TUHFundraiser, and for further details on joining in on the run on May 23, visit the 761km in Memory of John Breen Facebook page.

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