On The Buses: Fighting cancer, Irish soldiers in the Congo and playing saxophone for the Queen

On The Buses: Fighting cancer, Irish soldiers in the Congo and playing saxophone for the Queen
Eddie and Craig Russell from Hollyhill. Picture: David Keane.

A 202 passenger said his mother is giving people "something to fight for" as she continues to defy the odds following a devastating terminal lung cancer diagnosis.

Eddie Russell from Hollyhill, who was travelling on the bus linking Cork city to Knocknaheeny and Hollyhill, paid tribute to his mother Eileen Russell. His touching words come just a month after his sister Ciara praised her in a previous edition of "On the Buses."

"We are so proud of her. Just a few years ago she was given six months to live. Mum still has bad days, there are somewhere she's too sick to even get out of bed. However, we are grateful just to have her with us. Her strength is giving people something to fight for."

He urged families never to give up hope adding: "She had planned her funeral and we did our best to prepare the grandchildren but she has shown that doctors aren't always right and there is hope out there. We spent last weekend in Youghal and she still managed to get out with her family. Mum's not the type to lie there and just wallow."

"If there was ever any strain on her she never showed it. I don't think she wanted to put that on us. She was able to get support from The Girl's Club charity but she never really discussed her sadness with us."

He extending his gratitude to the Hollyhill community for their tremendous support throughout the ordeal.

"I've lived in places where neighbours wouldn't come out if your house was on fire but Hollyhill is different. There is no badness in people and everyone wants to help."

Bus driver Edward Moynihan from Dungarvan appealed for more people to support cancer research charities.

Bus driver Edward Moynihan from Dungarvan. Picture: David Keane.
Bus driver Edward Moynihan from Dungarvan. Picture: David Keane.

"My mum had suffered from cancer before she passed away from a stroke 30 years ago. I was 23 at the time. Now anytime there are collections for cancer research charities I'll donate, as this area needs so much money to keep it going."

Meanwhile, Congo native, Placide Bonsenge heaped praise on the Irish soldiers who fought in his country.

Placide Bonsenge from Pope's Quay. Picture: David Keane.
Placide Bonsenge from Pope's Quay. Picture: David Keane.

"I was working at a market in Athlone when a man got talking to me. He recognised from my accent that I was from the Congo. The man joked that I would have to pay him back as he had spent time in prison over there. It turned out he had spent time in the Congo as a peacekeeper."

"I had previously never known there were so many Irish soldiers in the Congo. It's nice to know we share some history. We really appreciate everything the Irish soldiers did for us. Every June we invite them to our Congo Independence Day as a way to congratulate them."

While the celebrations maintain a sharp focus on culture they also aim to educate.

"We discuss things that aren't normally spoken about like the children working as miners to retrieve materials found in many everyday items such as our phones and televisions," Placide said.

Lloyd Haslehurst, who is originally from the UK but now lives in Ballintemple spoke of his former life as a musician.

Lloyd Haslehurst from Ballintemple. Picture: David Keane.
Lloyd Haslehurst from Ballintemple. Picture: David Keane.

"I'm retired now but before that, I worked as a professional musician. I played saxophone and was part of a group to perform for the royal family when they travelled to Australia. We had to be there when she arrived in Perth before moving on to Sydney to perform for her a second time. I never had the chance to meet the queen personally but I did speak to Prince Charles and a few others."

Amanda Kent from Grimsby was enjoying a rare visit to Cork.

"My son and daughter-in-law-Sophie and Scott have a pottery shop called Cré in Skibbereen which they run with another lady. I visited the place and it's fantastic. You can create your own pottery and sit and eat chocolate cake in the cafe afterwards. One can also make a night out of it and come and make pottery while sipping on a glass of wine."

Her travelling companion Norma Downey from Gurranabraher was keen to track down a long lost friend.

Anna and Norma Downey from Gurranabraher and Amanda Kent from Grimsby, centre. Picture: David Keane.
Anna and Norma Downey from Gurranabraher and Amanda Kent from Grimsby, centre. Picture: David Keane.

"I like to be home for Saint Patrick's Day as often as I can," the now Grimsby resident said. "It's great to get back to your roots. There's a few people I'd like to track down and get back in contact with including an old St Vincents school friend of mine, Mary McGrath who hopefully is reading this."

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