by Jimmy Rhatigan
AN ILL and weary Mother Ireland will recover.
She will be comforted and cared for by young children of our city and county who are being hailed as the real heroes, the visionaries of Covid-19 ravaged times.
The kindness and care of children at the heart of a city centre community is sparking a new community spirit of love thy neighbour, instilling positivity as we battle with a deadly enemy.
Boys and girls in the close-knit housing estate of St Fiacre’s Place at the fulcrum of St Patrick’s Parish or The Village showed amazing love and heart-warming solidarity as they raised funds for the Children’s Ward at our local St Luke’s General Hospital.
The little ones, aged between 7 and 11, many of them pupils of St John of God Convent, New Street, were determined to support fellow children in St Luke’s who in turn are tended to by brave and passionate frontline workers.
It was school pals Sarah Culleton, aged 11 of 6th Class and Orlaith Knox of 4th Class who, showing leadership qualities beyond their tender years, organised a double whammy of fundraising to support the hospital and its patients.
The duo was joined by friends, neighbours’ children as they organised a cake and book sales and a raffle that spurred them to further voluntary efforts.
The success of the sale, with baking by Sarah Culleton’s mother, Hannah, the loan of a candy floss machine from a local ice cream van man and the support of local families was the dynamo that whetted the appetite for further giving.
The cake sale that raised €120 would soon be boosted by a sponsored run around the housing estate’s green playground area, an exercise that would boost health and add to hospital comforts.
Led by their dad, Michael, Sarah and Dylan Culleton and accompanied by their pal Orlaith Knox, the children enjoyed regular morning keep fit runs in the absence of organised sports due to Covid.
Happy heart exercise was to spark another opportunity to boost the hospital fund.
The sponsored run was born and plans were put into place.
Based on the distances that they had been running, it was decided that the little group would be able for 100 laps of the green area.
Lexie McStay, aged 9, a 3rd Class pupil of Conahy National School and Aoibheann Keane, a 1st Class pupil of Church Hill National School, Cuffesgrange, an enthusiastic 7-year old, also put on their runners.
Keen as mustard too were Jacob and Layla Coady, Conor Gleeson, Ava O’Brien, Dara Keane, Aoibheann’s brother and Orlaith’s sister Aoife Knox.
Sponsorship cards were printed by Michael Culleton as the big day beckoned when a field of dreams would become a mini Olympic Games Stadium.
The young eager beavers were supported by an entire community as parents turned out to help organise the run and the children of the street joined in the fun.
As Michael Culleton told The Kilkenny Observer, the enthusiasm and energy of children had brought neighbours even closer together than they were before.
The run raised €480, added to the cakes’ €120, giving a total of €600 which was passed on to Nurse Elaine Brennan of the Paediatric Department of St Luke’s.
A St Canice’s Credit Union Cheque was presented to Nurse Brennan at a Kilkenny Observer photo shoot on the local green that hosted the fund-raising sponsored run.