I lost my grandad... my best friend. Now I'm walking 160km in his memory

CHRIS DUNNE catches up with one young woman who is walking 160km for the Irish Cancer Society
I lost my grandad... my best friend. Now I'm walking 160km in his memory
Mae Lynch and her grandad Michael Lees.

GRANDADS with silver in their hair and gold in their hearts can be a big part of your life. They are someone you look up to, no matter how tall you grow or how far you go.

“I really admired how my grandad lived his life,” says Mae Lynch, aged 23.

“He taught me so much and he inspired me with his positivity.”

Mae is displaying the positivity of the man she loved so well, by walking a distance of 160km within the 2km radius from Union Hall to Cork and back again in 30 days.

The UCC student is undertaking this meaningful gesture in honour of her late grandad, Michael Lees, who died aged 82, and in support of the Irish Cancer Society. She has raised almost three times her target of €500.

Families everywhere who have been touched by cancer and who value the unwavering support of the Irish Cancer Society have championed Mae’s fund-raising efforts and donated to her cause.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has donated to my GoFundMepage so far,” says Mae.

Michael Lees, from Warwick, had many supporters who admired his love for the simple things in life. Being a selfless person, he had no regard for the trappings of materialism.

“My aunt and cousin who live in the city have joined me doing the walk,” says Mae.

“I find that very touching. I would also love if anyone else wants to join me in aid of the Irish Cancer Society or for another charity.”

Mae lost her beloved granddad to lung cancer last November.

“He was my best friend,” says Mae.

“Throughout his life, grandad always had a positive attitude. It seemed he was winning the battle back to health. But unfortunately things changed within hours.”

Michael, always full of life, full of laughter, and larger than life all the days of his life, passed away.

“I was going there, to the hospital to be with him; but it happened so fast.”

Tragically, Mae had to say goodbye to the man who was in her life since she was born, all through her childhood; and who proudly watched her grow into a lovely young woman.

Mae Lynch.
Mae Lynch.

How did she feel losing the love of her life?

“I was heartbroken” says Mae.

“Grandad was always such a big part of my childhood. I was really close to him. We had a special connection.”

Michael had a special connection with many people.

“He made them feel at ease instantly,” says Mae.

“He just had that way about him. Even with strangers that he met; he made them feel comfortable.”

Michael was always there for his grand-daughter. He was the best guy and the best friend she could ever have. The two, divided by a generation, had a lot in common.

“We were really alike,” says Mae.

“We had a similar love of the little things in life, like the love of nature and the simple joy of having a coffee together. As I got older; I saw more of my grandad. We had a unique closeness. I loved his company.”

Mickey was a pet.

“That was my pet name for him!” says Mae, smiling.

“He was a very traditional person who loved walking, gardening, and going to the pub for a pint. He liked watching daytime TV”.

Mickey didn’t take life too seriously.

“He was a big joker with a lively sense of humour.”

The big-hearted man was often a small child at heart.

“We’d often go for a walk and if he saw a swing in the park or playground, he’d go and have a swing. He was great fun.”

Michael, having such a positive inspirational effect on his granddaughter’s life, has prompted her to keep his memory alive and in doing so help others who are affected by cancer.

“I love walking,” says Mae. “I wasn’t strong enough to take on the 160km walking challenge for a while.”

But then, inheriting her grandad’s strong genes, she got her mojo back.

“The walk is dedicated to him,” says Mae.

Michael shone a light into his grand-daughter’s life and he lit up the lives of others who were privileged to know him.

“This has brought me so much,” says Mae.

“So much more than I ever expected.”


The Irish Cancer Society is the national charity in the Republic of Ireland dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem and improving the lives of those who have cancer.

For over 55 years the Irish Cancer Society has been dedicated to preventing cancer, detecting it early and fighting it at every level.

The Society work tirelessly to make sure fewer people in Ireland are getting cancer, and those that do get the best treatment, information and support.

They also fund life-saving cancer research right here in Ireland. Thanks t cancer research more people are surviving cancer than ever before.

For more on their work see www.cancer.ie General enquiries: info@irishcancer.ie or phone:1800 200 700

To donate to Mae’s 160km fundraising walk for the Irish Cancer Society visit: https//gofundme.com/f/To Cork-and-back


More in this section

Sponsored Content


Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more