A new charity has been launched in memory of a young Cork girl who died suddenly in September of last year.
The Heart Angel is inspired by nine-year-old Béibhinn O’Connor who suffered from a rare congenital heart defect and passed away after a routine procedure following open-heart surgery triggered a cardiac arrest.
The charity, which was launched at Cork City Hall by Cllr Fergal Dennehy, deputising for the Lord Mayor and Cllr Séamus McGrath, deputising for the County Mayor, aims to celebrate and commemorate her life and the lives of other children who have passed away in Ireland.
The Heart Angel charity plans to create memory gardens in every county in Ireland and has already begun working with local authorities with the first garden planned for Carrigaline and a second set to be created in the city in the next year.
Béibhinn’s mother Irene O’Connor said: “The gardens are inspired by positivity, kindness, creativity, and colour and will be rolled out throughout the 26 counties of Ireland in memory of children who passed.
There will be a sculpture in each garden of the ‘Heart Angel’ which will represent children who have died.
"We want the gardens to be colourful, uplifting and inspiring to all members of society.
“We also want to lift the taboo of speaking about a child’s death and to create a place where their friends and family can remember them in a positive light.
“Béibhinn Hope O’Connor, during her short life, inspired everyone around her to ‘Be Kind’. She lived every day like it was her last and has left behind a powerful legacy of kindness, love and positivity.”
Cllr Fergal Dennehy said that Béibhinn inspired so many people during her life and that her memory will live on through the Heart Angel gardens.
Remarkably, €100,000 was raised in Béibhinn’s name for childrens’ charities since she died.
"I know that the Heart Angel charity will continue to inspire young people across Ireland to carry on her kindness and keep her spirit alive,” he said.