Frank Greally’s Fundraising Walk for The Coombe Hospital
Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo – Via the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital – to The Morton Stadium, Santry on Monday, September 7th – Saturday, September 19th.
Target of fundraiser
To raise €50,000 for Friends of the Coombe to purchase a new LacSure Breastmilk Management System for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital.
Similar to the technology used in blood banks, the LacSure Breastmilk Management System will manage expressed maternal milk, and for the first time for the hospital, donated milk too, removing the need for two members of staff to check every one of the 175,000 feeds given to babies in their care every year. The result will be a more efficient system enabling staff to spend more time caring for babies and their parents.
The Old and the New Coombe Hospitals will feature on Frank Greally’s walk Gratitude Road as on Saturday, September 5th, he will join Professor Michael O’Connell, Master of the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital and more than 100 staff on the Coombe Camino – a 5km looped walk honouring the history of the hospital and its locality. Frank will later in the day travel to Heuston Station and board a train to Ballyhaunis following the journey his mother made when bringing him safely home from the Old Coombe Hospital back in 1951- the year Mayo last won the Football All-Ireland Title.
Man on a Mission
“I was born premature in The Old Coombe Hospital and was not expected to survive,” Frank Greally said. “My brother Tom was born there nine years before me and my mother, Kathleen Greally, lost two babies – a boy and a girl in home births back in Mayo. I was only six when my baby brother Gerard was born and he only survived a few days. Gerard’s death had a profound effect on me for many years and it was only in my early 50s that I fully came to terms with his passing. The big problem for me was that after he died, Gerard was seldom spoken about and I don’t think this was unusual at the time for families who lost infants.
“I can only imagine the challenge it must have been for my mother to have to travel to Dublin to give birth to Tom and I. My brother tells me that my mother brought me home on the train to Ballyhaunis wrapped in a blue blanket. Now I want to give something back to The Coombe Hospital for helping to bring me and my brother safely into the world.
“There’s a nice twist to the story too, as two of my daughters, Laura and Claire were born in The New Coombe and their mother, Marian also nursed there. To bring it all full circle, Laura is now going to have her first baby in the Coombe in October.”
Frank Greally set his 10,000m national junior record in Santry on an August evening in 1970. He later ran internationally for Ireland and won an Athletic Scholarship to East Tennessee State University. He founded and edited Irish Runner magazine for 37 years and he is now the Athletics Ireland Ambassador for The Daily Mile – an initiative that has become very popular in primary schools all over the country.
Frank is also founder (2012) of the annual Remembrance Run 5k – Walk or Run event that takes place in the Phoenix Park in November and he has written two books: Running Commentary and Running Full Circle. He is also a songwriter and has had a few of his lyrics recorded by singers Sean Tyrrell and Richard Mulligan.
“Gratitude Road gives me a chance to give thanks for all the many blessings I have had in my life: family, friends and medical professionals,” Frank said. “For a number of reasons, I never got to fulfil my full potential as a runner, and I have over the years, like most people, experienced some bumps in the road. However, for the most part, my life has been joyful and fulfilling.
“Gratitude Road for me is all about Family, Friendship, Life Challenges and Gratitude. I had problems for many years with depression and alcohol, but with the help of family, friends and medical professionals, I have for almost 20 years now found a recovery road and a new way of living. That’s where Gratitude Road kicks in and it helps to sustain me and to keep giving a little back – one day at a time. I never made it to the Olympics as a runner, but I got to cover six Olympics from 1992 to 2012 as a journalist. And it’s a great honour for me that Olympic 1500m Champion Ronnie Delany is now launching Gratitude Road for me.”
Master of the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital, Professor Michael O’Connell, expressed his thanks to Frank for choosing to fundraise for the hospital on his Gratitude Road Walk. “Frank’s connection with The Coombe spans four generations and his contribution will make a tangible difference to the work of the neonatal unit,” he said. “Not alone will it enable us to introduce a more efficient system of managing maternal and donated breastmilk, but it will also enable staff to spend more time with babies and their families. This will have a big impact on the work of the unit and the 1,000 premature and critically unwell babies we care for every year.”