Cancer survivor left without water: 'I am three months out of chemo but I still have the worry of an infection'

A man in remission from a rare form of cancer is among the thousands of people affected by the water outage in Louth and Meath.

Graham Waller, 45, said: “Thank God I am three months out of chemo but I still have the worry of an infection. I am in remission from a very rare cancer called Burkitt lymphoma.”

Graham lives with his wife Grainne and three sons in Clogherhead, Co Louth, where the water stopped last Friday.

He said: “We can’t have a shower or flush toilets and we are running back and forward to a local well to supply the house.”

Their kitchen is full of bottles and other containers they have filled at the well.

However, they need hot water and water that is safe to use from the tap.

Graham said his cancer had affected his immune system and “it is very, very important that we wash our hands, and hygiene is a very big thing at the moment”. Grainne, 42, said: “We are just terrified at the moment. We have been through so much [already].”

She added: “The main issue at the moment is hand hygiene for cooking and for handling food for Graham. It is ridiculous, and then not being able to wash yourself, to wash your body; it is just vile, absolutely vile.”

Meanwhile, people have been availing of the showers at the clubhouse of Dreadnots Gaelic Club in Clogherhead .

Padraig Rath, club treasurer, said that on Monday, the village’s fourth day without a mains water supply, “we opened up the facilities here for the general public and people of the village”.

“We have a lot of local caravan sites around where they had no water and because we had the well here we are glad to be able to do it for the people of the village, our supporters, and for the community in general that help us.”

There has been a large response to the service, which Padraig said was expected. “We knew there was going to be a big demand because of the situation. There is absolutely no water in the village; not in the caravan sites, the shops, or anywhere.”

The majority of people are coming with empty containers they are filling with fresh water from two taps on the outside of the clubhouse.

Padraig confirmed some people have availed of the showers. “One man phoned this morning saying he was going to a funeral; a few people going to grads have rung and we are only too delighted to help them out.”

His son, also Padraig Rath, a teacher who plays with the Louth team as well as the Dreadnots, said: “I have been coming up to use it for showering.

“There are lots of people in the village whether they are players or they support us in other ways. There are plenty of residents in the area and they are welcome to get the water out of the well too.

“I was up here yesterday myself and seen a load of people came in. There were women with children and babies and one woman said she has to sterilise things; she needs the water and depends on it.”

Clare McClenaghan, a mum of three, was filling five-litre containers at the club.

“It has been really difficult regarding our toilets and trying to keep the smell down because of the heat over the last couple of days,” she said.

The family is washing at the sink, she said, while “the kids have to help out washing the dishes because they are not used to the dishwasher not working”.

Fiona Barber and her daughter Olivia arrived in Ireland from the UK to spend five weeks at the caravan park in Clogherhead.

They left the UK last week and Olivia was looking forward to having her first shower in a week at the Dreadnots clubhouse.

Her mum said: “She hasn’t been able to shower since last week and when we came up to get fresh water earlier the groundsman told me we could use the shower facility until 6pm.”

Olivia said not having water at the park “has been really disgusting and really difficult”.

Fiona said not being able to flush toilets is the worst part. “You are having to wait five or six uses and then try and flush and that is not pleasant.”

She said it is getting harder to buy fresh water in the shops and “the Dreadnots making this available has been a huge advantage”.


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