There were daffodils already in bloom as they drove to Dublin for the launch of the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day in Croke Park yesterday.
The two long-time friends have been raising funds on Daffodil Day for 29 years and will be on the square in Mountmellick shaking their buckets on March 24.
The two volunteers admitted being a bit concerned that the daffodils have appeared earlier this year because the weather has been so mild. “We are hoping we will still have loads on March 24,” said Mary.
Bridie and Mary are from Tullamore, Co Offaly where they went to school together and became firm friends.
Mary’s mother died from cancer in 1982 and when she was ill there were no services of any kind to make her comfortable and ease her suffering.
“We just had the public health nurse who came whenever she was available,” said Mary. “The local GP was the main point of call. My mother had a very hard time of it because she had no pain relief.”
The first Irish Daffodil Day was organised by the national charity’s founder, Prof Austin Darragh, and its chief executive, Tom Hudson, in 1988.
The day quickly became a March tradition, and in 2001 the daffodil was adopted as the primary logo.
“When I first heard of Daffodil Day, I did not give it an awful lot of thought, other than it seemed like a good idea,” said Mary.
On the first Daffodil Day, Mary went out to buy some daffodils, but found that there were none available so she contacted the society and she agreed to become a volunteer.
“The first year we raised £1,000, which we thought was huge money,” she said.
Over the past decade, the two women have helped raise around €8,000 every year.
Mary and Bridie expect that people will be asking about the society’s new hard-hitting Get Cancer campaign to highlight the cancer epidemic in Ireland.
Mary said that some people did not get what the campaign was about and she expected to be doing a lot of explaining on Daffodil Day.
Bridie and Mary know first-hand how cancer can strike out of the blue.
“A lot of volunteers who joined us over the years died from cancer,” said Mary. “They were great volunteers.
“They did not have cancer when they started. They just wanted to help out. We miss them.”