Top Irish indie rock band, Walking on Cars, have agreed to headline a very special charity gig in Cork to help kit out Cork University Hospital's (CUH) new €40m childrens' unit.
The Dingle four-piece, who will be touring their Colours album in Germany in early November, will jet back to Ireland to play the intimate stripped-back acoustic set in Cork's City Hall on November 16 before resuming their tour with gigs in New Zealand and Australia.
96FM breakfast show host, KC and Today FM's Fergal Darcy will MC the night, with circus performers and a host of sporting heroes also guesting. It is hoped that two more big acts will be announced soon.
Walking on Cars' Pa, Sorcha, Paul and Evan agreed to headline the gig after an approach from Gillian Kelleher, the staff officer at CUH's Children's Unit, in Dingle.
"I was in Dingle with friends earlier this year and we got talking to a friend of the band about how we were planning a fundraising gig and he said 'why don't you ask Walking on Cars and I thought yeah right!'" Ms Kelleher said.
"So we met Paul for a coffee and he said he and Pa both have kids and they realise how important the hospital is, and the band would love to do something for the charity.
"It took a while to organise the logistics between their tour dates but we're delighted that it's all worked out."
The children's unit at CUH in Wilton, Cork, is one of the busiest in the country, serving a catchment area of some one million people and treating up to 20,000 children annually.
Despite the cramped conditions, up to 95% of its young patients receive all their treatment on site, with just 5% requiring referral to the Dublin children’s hospitals.
The unit runs 30 outpatient clinics, one-day ward and two inpatient wards.
The new Seahorse children’s outpatient and day ward facility which incorporates a CF gym, dedicated CF and diabetes review rooms, and a Koala room for children with autism, as well as a 12-bed day ward and outpatient clinic space opened recently.
Over 30% of this out-patient facility was funded by charitable donations.
However, state funding was finally ringfenced last year for the construction of a new 80-bed paediatric hospital on the CUH campus. It is hoped construction will start next year and that the facility will be open in 2023.
It will allow the transfer of the paediatric services from the Mercy University Hospital, including its children’s leukaemia ward to the new unit at CUH.
Fundraising is now ramping up to ensure the unit will have the best equipment, and to ensure the existing facilities are upgraded too, Ms Kelleher said.
In the short-term, the unit needs an ECHO machine, used to diagnose congenital heart disease in children; and an EEG machine to diagnose seizures and epilepsy - 600 children with epilepsy attend CUH's Paediatric Neurology Service.
There are also plans to refurbish the existing children’s wards and the paediatric section in the hospital's busy main Emergency Department.