Tributes have poured in for Ciara Brolly, a Derry native, who was the “driving force” behind Irish charity, the Share A Dream Foundation.
Ms Brolly, 46, died Saturday evening after a four-month battle with cancer of the tongue which had been diagnosed last January.
She had recovered from surgery to remove cancer from her head last year.
Ms Brolly’s sister Una said she passed away peacefully at Milford Hospice, Limerick, surrounded by members of her family.
She praised the Hospice for making the family “so comfortable” in her sister’s final moments.
“We were so lucky that we were allowed to be with her until she passed away. The staff couldn't have been kinder, and the care she got at Milford was A1.”
“Four of us were holding her hand. She didn't want to go, she was 46 years of age, she was taken too soon.”
She’s just a baby, my baby sister, all our hearts are broken.
Ms Brolly said her sister had a “great sense of humour" and “loved her two dogs Puddles and Alvin”.
Ciara Brolly joined the Share A Dream Foundation, founded by Shay Kinsella, in 1993, ten years after her family relocated to Limerick from Derry.
She had the past spent 27 years making approximately 2,000 dreams come true for terminally ill children, and children with life-impacting conditions or injuries.
“When Ciara came into my life some 23 years ago to help me make a dream come true for a terminally ill little angel, little did I realise the life-changing effect this amazing girl would bring to my life and the Share a Dream foundation,” Mr Kinsella said.
“She became my best friend, my motivator, and anyone who ever had the privilege to meet her went away with a big smile and a feeling they had met someone very special.”
In an emotional tribute, Mr Kinsella said: “She was the driving force behind my dreams and without her I’m useless.”
“She was truly an angel from god, I received the praise, but it was Ciara who took my dreams and made them happen.
"It was Ciara who kept driving me to build the magical Dreamland, which I now dedicate to her memory.”
Dreamland opened in two years ago in Limerick providing a magical playground for children of all abilities, the first of its kind in Ireland.
It includes a children’s garda station, which was officially opened by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, last October.
Gardaí are due to perform a guard of honour and escort Ms Brolly’s cortège at her funeral tomorrow, June 2.
Una Brolly said her sister’s life-long charity work would be remembered by thousands of families who had engaged with the Share a Dream family.
“As Shay said, he had the ideas, and Ciara drove those ideas forward, she brought it all together and drove it on,” Ms Brolly added.
Anyone wishing to pay their respects along the route of tomorrow’s funeral are advised to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Due to government guidelines regarding gatherings, a private mass, for family only, will take place in St Patrick’s Church, Clare Street, at 11am this Tuesday followed by private cremation in Shannon, Co Clare.
The Brolly family has requested “family flowers only, with donations, if desired, to the Share A Dream Foundation or Milford Hospice”.