A CORK City soccer legend, Declan Daly has long been a team player.
Now he is joining his siblings and well-known faces from sport and broadcasting to take part in a virtual 5km challenge to support the frontline staff at the Mercy Hospital.
The event is taking place in the first two weeks of December and is in memory of Declan’s mother, Lena, who passed away aged 85 on September 7 after spending three and a half weeks in the Mercy, where she received the best of medical care.
“The efforts of the catering, cleaning, nursing and care teams contributed greatly to making my mam’s time on the wards a very dignified and humane one,” says Declan, who lifted the league crown with Cork City as a defender and captain in 1993 and also the FAI cup in 1998.
This inspired Declan and his siblings, Geraldine, Paula and Kenneth, to come together and raise funds for the Mercy University Hospital Foundation Covid-19 Appeal.
Funds raised will support frontline staff at the Mercy as they work through the Covid-19 pandemic this Christmas.
Team Daly and their companions are challenging themselves to walk or run 5km and inviting others to do the same.
Declan, 54, a proud northsider, always knew that his mother was a legend.
“Mam was 100% independent,” says Declan, who is married to Susan. The couple have two children, Conor and Sophie.
“She lived her on her own after we lost dad, Joe, six years ago.”
Lena was well minded at her home in St Brendan’s Road, Farranree.
“We all live within 20 minutes of the family home,” adds Declan.
“Mam always had great health. She went into hospital for a few tests and she developed sepsis and she couldn’t shake it,.
Lena was given the best of care and attention while she was a patient in the Mercy hospital.
“Dad had been treated in the Mercy too,” says Declan.
“Mam and dad were both patients in the same ward, St Mary’s in the Mercy. And at one point they were both under the care of Professor Molloy there. Mam was looked after by Dr Catherine O’Sullivan when she was ill.”
Both of Declan’s parents were cared for with tender, loving care in the hospital by staff and carers alike.
“As a family, the Mercy Hospital was very good to us,” says Declan.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, all the hospital staff were very understanding and very supportive. They deserve every support and we’ll do our very best to help support the hospital and acknowledge the super care they gave our mam.
“She was treated with the utmost dignity and respect in the Mercy. It is a wonderful hospital with a fantastic ethos and culture.”
The staff at the Mercy always make things a little easier to bear when loved ones are ill and their families are worried.
“All the people who work there are so friendly to patients and to their families,” says Declan. “It makes things easier.”
Lena Daly, neé Stanton, was a true northsider too.
“There was no day when my mother wouldn’t buy the Echo!” says Declan.
“The paper was delivered to our house every day and it was never out of our house.”
Lena, originally from Roches Buildings, died as she had lived.
“The Echo was one of the offertory gifts to the altar at her funeral mass,” says Declan.
“And it was placed on top of her coffin.”
Lena, who loved reading the paper, was also artistic.
“She was a member of the Arts Club in Faranree,” says Declan.
“We have some of her paintings at home, which are special mementos and special heirlooms to remind us of her.”
Lena and Joe had special times watching Declan play for Cork City.
“Mam and dad always came to my matches to cheer me on,” says Declan,
“They were my biggest critics and my biggest fans!”
Declan doesn’t mind being on the sidelines now.
“I still love going to Cork City matches,” he says. “I had a brilliant time playing with the side.”
Now he has a brilliant time supporting his side with his son Conor.
“We miss out a bit with Covid-19, but hopefully games will resume to normal soon.”
Declan, rallying the troops, is supporting another cause close to his heart next month.
“For anyone who would like to get involved and support the Mercy Covid-19 Appeal, you can walk or run the 5km in one go or spread it out over two weeks.
“Once your 5km is done, by using the funding page or www.justgiving.com/campaign/5kmforlenadaly, could you please make a donation online, post a photo of yourself completing the challenge on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag the Mercy Foundation.
“You can also have the option to set up your own fundraising page by using the links above asking your family and friends to support you.
“The 5km challenge is open to all ages and abilities. Being virtual, it can take place anywhere in the world supporting the frontline staff. Thank you in advance for the support you can give.”
Speaking about the difference that support like this has made, Michael Sheridan, CEO of the Mercy Hospital says: “Individuals and businesses all across Cork have gone above and beyond to support our Covid-19 Appeal.”
The Mercy University Hospital is currently building a Covid Triage area of the Emergency Department to monitor Covid or potential Covid patients with Covid Isolation Rooms.
The Mercy Hospital Foundation has committed to supporting this by purchasing 14 triage monitors and 2 defibrillators to help the staff to monitor and treat any Covid and potential Covid patients in the Emergency Department of ICU.
For more information on the Mercy Covid-19 Appeal visit www.mercyfundraising.ie