Remembering mum as we undertake 80km challenge

Cork ARC Cancer Support House are looking for people to take part in their new fundraising challenge, 80K in July. CHRIS DUNNE talks to actress Norma Sheehan who is undertaking the challenge in memory of mum Nora
Remembering mum as we undertake 80km challenge

HAPPY TIMES: Back in 2018 The Sheahan family from Cork, winners of The Fittest family (celebrity special). Pictured with Nora Sheahan (centre), mother of actress Norma Sheahan (right) with team members, Norman’s niece Sheena Buckley, sister Paul Cogan and cousin Leonard O’Sullivan.

YOUR summer challenge might be to perfect the juicy chicken wings on the barbecue, or maybe get dipping in the open sea, or perhaps visit some beautiful sights in Cork and Cork county; of which there are plenty.

Why not take up an 80km summer challenge and join in the fun and activity to keep the vital services of Cork ARC Cancer Support House going for cancer patients and their families?

Cork celebrity, comedian and actress, Norma Sheahan, is taking time out from filming Harry Wild in Kildare with iconic actress Jane Seymour to take up the virtual challenge to raise €50,000 for Cork ARC Cancer Support House.

She means business.

“I’ll let loose our new guinea pigs on people’s doorsteps if they don’t get involved!” says Norma, ever the joker, and whose mother, Nora, like so many others everywhere, got great comfort and support from Cork Arc Cancer Support House when she needed it most. Nora sadly lost her long battle with cancer in 2019, age 71.

Catriona O’Mahony, newly appointed General Manager of Cork ARC three months ago, said they are delighted to have Norma’s support.

“Norma, of Ireland’s Fittest Family Celebrity Special winner fame, has kindly teamed up with us this year to boost the fund-raiser for ARC House and to get people on board so that we can keep our services available online and open to the public, even in these testing times.”

There’s no better woman than Norma to get the ball rolling!

“My mother was a huge supporter of Cork ARC Cancer Support House,” says Norma.

Like so many others scarred by the scourge of cancer, Nora found it hard at first to knock on the big friendly door that welcomes everybody inside.

“She was hesitant at first,” says Norma.

Norma Sheahan, with fans in Whitechurch, back in 2018 when she and her family won Ireland’s Fittest Family (a celebrity special). They family donated €10,000 to Cork Arc House from their win.	Picture: Eddie O’Hare
Norma Sheahan, with fans in Whitechurch, back in 2018 when she and her family won Ireland’s Fittest Family (a celebrity special). They family donated €10,000 to Cork Arc House from their win. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

“But when she did knock on the door at ARC House in O’Donovan Rossa Road, she was welcomed in like an old friend.”

(Cork ARC Cancer Support House is now located at Sarsfield Road, Wilton.)

Norma wasn’t left outside the door. She was beckoned inside.

“As a helper at ARC House when I was unemployed and had no children, I received massive kindness and solace from everybody associated with the wonderful free service.”

Norma and her mother got service with a smile.

“We were welcomed in with a cup of tea and I got a lovely reflexology therapy,” says Norma, who has three teenage daughters.

“We kept going back. The experience was wonderful for me as a helper when I was in between jobs.

“My mother loved going to ARC House and availing of all the wonderful therapies and the friendship there.”

Norma never forgot the kindness, the warmth and the hands of friendship extended from all at ARC House.

“That was 20 years ago, and I never forgot the wonderful place and the wonderful people.”

She never forgot what a wonderful woman her mother was.

“My mum had to be peg-fed for many years. She couldn’t eat or drink or swallow.”

Nora was a supportive mother.

“She helped me with my college fees when I attended UCC and later when I went to RADA.”

Norma was her daughter’s biggest fan and her biggest critic.

“She might see me in The Clinic on RTÉ and tell me; you didn’t look great! She was straight up and honest-to-God. She battled cancer for years.”

Nora Sheahan and husband Joe.
Nora Sheahan and husband Joe.

That never stopped Nora.

“She had three sun holidays a year and she would go to the opening of an envelope! She was often in pain but she had the resilience and the motivation to go on.”

She was a typical mum.

“She could be a pain in the a*se too! And great fun at a party. As I said; she’d go to the opening of an envelope!”

Cork Arc Cancer Support House needs to stay open and available for support cancer patients and their families.

“Don’t wait around,” says Norma.

“Go on to the website, donate €20 and sign up for the 80km summer challenge to help raise funds for Cork ARC. You can do it anywhere, any place, with anybody.

“Make it a fun challenge for all the family. Walk 80km in July with your neighbour, your friend, your mother, or your dog.”

Or the guinea pig, should it land on the doorstep?

“Exactly!” says Norma laughing.

“That’s the spirit!”


We all can join in The Summer Challenge Cork ARC Support House virtual challenge to raise €50,000 for ARC House which operates in Sarsfield Cork and Bantry West Cork.

“We want to get the message out there that ARC Cancer Support House is open for business; to offer support online or in person to those that need support and counselling,” says Catriona.

Even though Cork ARC Cancer Support House was forced to close its doors because of the pandemic, it still relies on the public support to help provide its vital services to cancer patients and their loved ones.

“This fundraiser will help us to provide on-going essential free services to the people who need it,” says Catriona.

Covid might go away; but cancer never does. Help is at hand at Cork ARC . Cork ARC Cancer Support House will never go away.

“As the pandemic continues to impact all our lives, public fundraising for Cork ARC Cancer Support House remains a major challenge,” says Catriona.

Nora Sheahan and Graham Norton.
Nora Sheahan and Graham Norton.

“The charity is in need of funds to continue providing vital support to cancer patients and their loved ones.”

We all need a little help from our friends.

“We need your help,” says Catriona.

“We’re asking you to dedicate your miles this summer to Cork ARC and to sign up for our 80km challenge on foot, in the sea, or on wheels. This is a fun event for you, your family and your friends. You can even track your progress on our live tracker and get those competitive juices going with our leaderboard!

“All we ask is for you to abide by social distancing and guidelines and the Covid-19 restrictions in your area.

“You can complete it anywhere in the world, in your own time and at your own pace.”

Norma, from Whitechurch, who donated €10,000 to Cork ARC when she won the Ireland’s fittest family celebrity special, will set the pace and set the great example we can all follow.

“I know lots of people are fed-up of virtual events during Covid,” says Norma.

“But the Summer 80km Challenge for Cork ARC is a really fantastic event to get involved in.”

We can all get into the groove and into the spirit to have some fun and boost the coffers of Cork ARC; the cancer support house where the door is always open.

“Donate the €20 and get going,” says Norma.

Visit for more details.

Last year, Cork ARC supported over 1,290 people whose lives had been impacted by cancer. With a potential wave of un-diagnosed cases and cutbacks across many mainstream services, services like those provided by Cork ARC are a lifeline support.

A number of Cork businesses are supporting Cork ARC’s latest 80km fundraising challenge, Version 1, Leeside Shipping, Brown Thomas and Diageo.

Alan Crowley, Head of Version 1 Munster Operations, says: “Version 1 are delighted to partner with Cork ARC Cancer Support House this year.

“Our staff are actively fundraising and participating in their Summer 80km Challenge. Follow Version 1’s social media for updates.”

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