Ronnie’s Relay Unites the Kilkenny Community
Virtual Relay gaining momentum as sports stars from across Kilkenny and around the country turning out to support cancer charities.
On the 27th June, under the dwindling restrictions of the Covid-19 lockdown, a 24 hour virtual relay – Ronnie’s Relay -is being hosted by St Martins GAA club in north Kilkenny. In this event, men, women and children of the parish will be walking, running or cycling “virtually” between every GAA pitch in the county, and for the record, there are 42 of them over a distance of 426km. A whole host of stars have endorsed this via a video campaign from across all walks of life including Brian Cody, Jim Bolger, DJ Carey, Henry Shefflin, Davy Fitzgerald, Marty Morrissey, Colm Bonnar, Lee Chin, Derek McGrath, Stephen Ward, Ken McGrath, Ian Dempsey, Mags D’Arcy, Edwina Keane, Jon Egan, Ursula Jacob, Martin Kavanagh, Richie Hogan & Seanie Maguire.
But they will not be alone, they will be joined by many othersaround the country who have come out to support the event. The hurlers, footballers and camogie players of Muckalee, Coon & Ballyfoyle will be joined by members An Garda Siochana & the Army, Lisdowney, Castlecomer, Conahy & Tullaroan hurling clubs, Deen Celtic soccer club, Kilkenny Triathlon club, the local cycling club and the Nore Dragon Paddlers, to name just a few
So what’s this all for? Ronnie’s Relay is primarily being run in support of Veronica (Ronnie) Clancy, and is also in aid of two great charities, Jim Bolger’s Hurling for Cancer and the fantastic Carlow Kilkenny Homecare team.
Ronnie, originally a Lisdowney woman, married Niall in 2003and settled in Coon. There they are bringing up their young family, Emma, Hannah & Evan. Ronnie is a proud member of An Garda Siochana, based in Athy. The family are steeped in sport. Ronnie is a member of the Nore Dragon Paddlers and is a committee member with “Relay for Life”, while Niall hurled with St Martins and is an active member of the club, serving as one of the many volunteers behind the scenes ensuring everything runs smoothly. All the children are involved at various levels within the club and Emma is also a keen basketballer with Kilkenny Stars.
While it all sounds picturesque, unfortunately it hasn’t been an easy path for Ronnie. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 when Evan was just 10 days old. As a young mother, an aggressive treatment path followed of both Chemo & Radiotherapy. The recovery was long and not without complication, but she was determined to recover. While she never officially received the all clear she was able to take up numerous activities supporting cancer charities. Through Relay for Life she was not just able to support the various charities, but she also inspired Emma & Hannah in 2016 to have their beautiful long hair cut to donate to the Princess Trust Fund for children also struck with this terrible disease. In 2016 Ronnie was one of the founding members of the NoreDragon Paddlers, a group of dragon boat paddlers who comprise of breast cancer survivors. With them she has been fortunate enough to travel throughout Ireland & Europe to compete in various events.
The spectre of cancer however was never far away from Ronnie having lost both her mother Mary and sister Mary-Beth to it in recent years. In January this year during a routine check-up, Ronnie received the crushing news that her cancer had returned. Her old enemy was back and this time it hadinvaded her bones. Knowing the battle that is ahead, the Clancy family have buckled down. Despite the disruptions caused to treatment in these unusual Covid-19 times, their battle with cancer will be hard fought.
Hence this community of north Kilkenny are determined to help. They have enlisted the support of many through St Martins Paul Corcoran , Chairman of St Martins, proudly states “It’s an honour for the club to facilitate this event for these great causes, especially in these challenging times”.
Friends, colleagues, acquaintances, sport stars both local and national, have pledged their support for this young mother & the charities involved. You can too, at Ronnie’s Relay gofundme page with €16.4k already raised. Be part of this story to support Ronnie and the broader cancer struggle through Hurling for Cancer and the Carlow Kilkenny Homecare team. Details and regular updates can be found at St Martins hurling club facebook, twitter & Instagram pages and #ronniesrelay through Pado Flynn (083) 4631641 or Patrick Kealy +353 (87) 276 0628.