Honouring uncle and aunt was long and short of it for sisters

Two sisters, whose aunt and uncle died within six months of each other, were described as a cut above the rest yesterday after turning tragedy to triumph.

Erika and Zoe from Togher, Cork, who have raised over €5,000 for Marymount Hospice after a sponsored hair cut for the Rapunzel Foundation.

Zoe and Erika Bermingham, from Togher, Cork, volunteered to have their waist-long hair cut in honour of their uncle Peter and aunt Ann, raising thousands of euro for a hospice and helping children with cancer in the process. Apart from trims, it was the first time each of them had such an extensive haircut.

It was a day of mixed emotions for the Bermingham and Dennehy families yesterday as Erika, 16, and Zoe, 11, visited the city’s Marymount Hospice on the first anniversary of Ann’s death to present a cheque for €5,450.

Their mother, Gillian, said that while the day was tinged with sadness, they were delighted to be able to ‘give back’ to the hospice which cared for Ann in the final weeks of her life, while remembering their uncle Peter too.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Erika and Zoe,” she said. “It was all in honour of their aunt and uncle. We’re just so, so proud.”

Peter Dennehy, 52, a married father-of-two, a son of former Fianna Fáil TD John Dennehy and brother of Fianna Fáil city councillor Fergal Dennehy, died suddenly from a heart attack on September 21, 2016.

Peter’s sister Ann, 51, who was battling cancer at the time, died in Marymount just over six months later on April 4, 2017.

Gillian said the double tragedy devastated the entire family.

She said Erika, a transition year student in St Aloysius, and Zoe, a sixth class student in Togher Girls NS, had been considering for some time how best to honour their aunt and uncle’s memory when they saw a TV programme about the Rapunzel Foundation, which makes wigs from donated human hair for children with cancer or alopecia.

They both decided to do a sponsored haircut, donating their hair to the foundation and the cash to Marymount, setting a target of €1,000.

They each got 17” of hair cut at Amy Michelle’s hairdressers on High St in March, where it was the braided, packaged, and dispatched to Rapunzel.

Donations poured in and the girls smashed their fundraising target, raising just over €5,400, and money is still pouring in.

“The only time they ever got their hair cut during their lives was for a trim. They could sit on their hair,” said Gillian.

“But they’re delighted with their new shoulder-length styles.

“We were a bit worried about Zoe, who is making Confirmation later this month. But she is grand. She loves the shorter hair.”

The girls were joined by their grandparents, John and Phil Dennehy, for the cheque presentation yesterday.

“It was a bittersweet day for our family but a proud day for my parents John and Phil, to give back to the people who cared so much for my sister in her final days,” said Gillian.

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