A brave boy fighting cancer said he had the “best birthday ever” yesterday after thousands of cards and parcels from well-wishers all over the world were delivered to his home.
Fionn Doyle, who turned seven, said it was “really cool” to see so many cards and presents delivered under armed garda and fire brigade escort to his home in Kildorrery, in North Cork.
“I’ll open maybe a good few of them today but I’ll leave the rest of them for my next birthday,” he said confidently, as his parents, Eimear and Jack, hugged him tight.
Fionn has battled leukaemia for over five years.
But, in May, doctors told his parents their son’s illness was now terminal and that he had only a few weeks, at the most, to live.
Devastated, but determined to make the most of their time together, Eimear and Jack brought him home from Crumlin Children’s Hospital on May 31.
Ahead of his birthday, Eimear issued a simple appeal on social media, inviting people to send Fionn a card for his birthday and said she expected a few people to respond.
But her message resonated around the world.
Local postman David Nolan needed an army of helpers to deliver dozens of bags of cards, parcels and boxes which arrived from all over Ireland, Europe and the US, to the Doyle house yesterday.
“It’s been like this since last Tuesday. It’s been an incredible response. I reckon 2,500 cards arrived yesterday alone and this will continue for a few more days at least,” said Mr Nolan.
Members of the Garda dog unit, the regional support unit, and community and detective units from Fermoy joined forces with members of Mitchelstown Fire Brigade to give Mr Nolan a blue-lights escort to Fionn’s house yesterday.
Flanked by his parents, and his sisters, Saoirse, 8, and Amy, 13, Fionn’s eyes lit up when the convoy rolled up to his front door.
He was made an honorary garda and presented with his own Garda uniform before Supt Mick McGuire presented him with a specially-struck medal for bravery thanks to the Little Blue Heroes foundation, set up by gardaí on a voluntary basis last year to help families in similar situations.
Garda Tracie Wilkes, who helped co-ordinate yesterday’s special event with Kildorrery-based Garda Vincent Guerin and colleagues Garda Fiona O’Keeffe and Garda Conor Gately, said: “We’re here to give Fionn memories. Today isn’t about sadness. It’s about celebration.”
Jack said it was “overwhelming” to see so many people pulling together for Fionn and Eimear said it will give them strength in the weeks ahead.
Eimear added: “We’ve been battling for five-and-a-half-years but the last few months, since May when we got the terminal diagnosis, have been really hard and there’s been a lot of sadness.
“But days like today are a good distraction and allow us to focus on the moment, and what we have right here in front of us now.
“We just felt the love from everybody and the support has given us strength for the times when you hit a wall and think you can’t keep going… but to think there are so many people behind us gives us the strength to keep going.”