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'Best mum ever' laid to rest after cancer battle; 8-year-old daughter gives touching tribute

By Olivia Kelleher

A young Cork mother who bravely fought cancer for two years, was laid to rest today.

Caroline Sweeney, 37, from Macroom, Co Cork, is mother to Jamie, 8, and Zara, 3. Earlier this month, she was told by doctors that her only option was palliative care. She was encouraged to get her affairs in order and to write a will.

However, Caroline told the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s RedFM, that she was not ready to go to a hospice and wanted to battle to extend her life to see her children grow up.

Today at St Colman's Church in Macroom, her daughter Jamie told the packed congregation of mourners that Caroline was the most special mother in the world.

"I love my mummy very much. She was the best. She was funny. She always made me laugh. She was so special to me.

"We will always miss her but she will always be by our side. I bet she is having the best time with Nana in heaven.

"She is the best mother ever".

The coffin of Caroline Sweeney O’Donoghue is shouldered from St Coleman’s Church, Macroom for burial at St Coleman’s Cemetery, Macroom. Picture: John Delea

Fr Donal Roberts, who celebrated the Requiem Mass today, said that Caroline’s strength had impressed all those who had come in to contact with her in recent months.

"Caroline was so very special to her family and all her friends. We know her sickness set her back in the last 18 months but we saw her tremendous courage shine though that sickness. She certainly inspired this community and she was so impressed by the response and the generosity of people."

"She was a wonderful, caring, loving mother to Jamie and to Zara. Her family especially husband Anthony were there to carry her through her sickness.

"She shared her talents, her love and her gifts through her short life".


In her radio interview in September, Caroline said: "My poor children have lost their (grandfather) last October and have lost my partner’s mother. They have lost two family members. It is not about me. It is about my children.

“If I was in my 50s I would say ‘thank you very much I have had a very nice time. Good luck’. But I am 37 and I have two small girls who need their mum and I am not giving up for them."

Caroline Sweeney with her children Jamie and Zara.

Her sister Michelle said at the time: “She is relatively fit and there is no association with tongue cancer. There is no reason for it. Just bad luck.”

Caroline was diagnosed with cancer on her tongue in June 2016. She underwent surgery to remove half her tongue. She also had chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Her cancer returned and she had to have her whole tongue removed.

This autumn, she was told that a new tumour has emerged on her neck and that she also had spots on her lungs. Doctors informed her the cancer was not survivable.

At the time, Caroline said: “I am not ready for it (death). They want to put me on palliative care. The girls are my life. I have worked hard all my life. I just want a chance.”

However, in spite of medical care in Germany she lost her brave fight for life in Marymount Hospice in Cork on Saturday morning.

Caroline is survived by her husband and daughters, her mother Joan and sister Michelle. She was laid to rest in St Colman's Cemetery Macroom.