A tribute concert for two remarkable West Cork musicians has raised almost €5,000 for charity.

The lives of recently deceased ‘Wonderful Life’ singer Colin Vearncombe, known professionally as Black, and Interference frontman Fergus O’Farrell were saluted during Skibbereen Arts Festival.

The two gifted artists, who formed the group DogTailSoup, died within days of each other earlier this year.

Colin Vearncombe spent 16 days in a coma at Cork University Hospital following a car crash near Rosscarbery as he drove from his home in Schull to Cork Airport. He never regained consciousness and passed away on January 26.

The family asked for donations in lieu of flowers, to an organisation that offered them a “home from home” through their 16-day bedside vigil.

The organisation that offered them solace during those dark days is Wilton-based Brú Columbanus, a 26-bed facility providing accommodation for relatives of seriously ill patients. The service is free, family orientated and funded entirely by donations. Some €6,000 has been donated to the Vearncombe legacy fund for Brú Columbanus since the singer’s death.

His wife, opera singer Camilla Griehsel Vearncombe said the family would be ever grateful.

“It was invaluable to us that we could all be together and have some semblance of family life,” she said. “We could be together and cook together.

“We met others in the same situation — some luckier than us. There was so much support given and taken, it was amazing to share that.”

The organisation’s running costs amount to around €300,000 per year.

The Vearncombes’ appreciation of the service is typical, according to Anne-Maria O’Connor, fundraising and events manager at Brú Columbanus: “Every day we get thank you letters; people are so grateful for the service, so relieved I think, that it exists. It’s one less thing for them to think about when their relative is unwell.”

The €5.5m “home from home” service opened in 2005. It was established by the Knights of Columbanus with the support of the Department of Health, the HSE and Cork City Council along with voluntary contributions.

In order to stay, families must live 30 miles or more from the hospital and must be referred directly by ward staff. Since 2005, more than 6,300 families have stayed at Brú Columbanus to be near loved ones in hospital.

At the end of July, a new charity shop opened on Schull’s Main Street, selling ‘vintage and pre-loved clothing, household items and more’ with all proceeds going directly to the facility.

www.brucolumbanus.com


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