Bantry community rallies around to bring much-loved 'ambassador' home

The family of Denis Connolly, who is paralysed from the chest down, needs to raise €50k for work on his home which has to be adapted to his additional needs
Bantry community rallies around to bring much-loved 'ambassador' home

Local man Denis Connolly a witness on the night at the Betelgeuse disaster 40th anniversary mass at St. Finbarr’s Church, Bantry, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

A Cork community has come together to help bring a much-loved resident home following a serious car crash that left him with catastrophic injuries.

The accident on June 24 left Denis Connolly paralysed from his upper chest down with limited use of his shoulders and hands.

The Bantry man was taken to the Mater Hospital in Dublin where he underwent complex spinal surgery and was later transferred to Cork University Hospital where he received expert care over a number of weeks. For the past two months, the keen photographer has been in the National Rehabilitation Unit in Dún Laoghaire.

It was hoped he would be able to return to his Reenrour East home for Christmas but his rehabilitation will continue through the festive season with a view to getting him home in the new year.

More than anything Denis wants to return to his family home of 37 years but given his additional needs the house is no longer suitable.

In order to make the house work for Denis when he returns, substantial structural renovations will need to be carried out and specialised equipment will need to be purchased. Denis' family and friends have started a GoFundMe to try and raise the €50,000 needed to do the necessary work.

Bantry man Denis Connolly suffered life-changing injuries in a car crash earlier this year. Picture: Get Denis Home/GoFundMe
Bantry man Denis Connolly suffered life-changing injuries in a car crash earlier this year. Picture: Get Denis Home/GoFundMe

The family are engaging with the Local Authority to avail of the House Adaptation Grant but say this will only cover a fraction of the overall costs. They are hoping that the people of Bantry and beyond will help them to bring Denis home to the place he loves so much.

"Denis is a keen photographer and has shown the love he has for his native Bantry and those who reside there by the numerous photographs he has taken over the years," the family said.

"Be it the local characters, shop fronts, airplanes on his beloved airstrip or the beautiful sunsets that happened so frequently over Bantry Bay."

They said the reaction Denis' photos receive on social media show how much people enjoy and appreciate his work.

"We as a community are so thankful for all the memories, he has captured for us. For people living abroad it is heart-warming to see photographs of your hometown and I am sure there are many Bantry people living far from home who greatly appreciate what Denis did.

"He has been a great ambassador for this town, and for all of West Cork and now we would warmly appreciate any donation to help us on our journey to get Denis home."

A very active man, many people will be familiar with Denis out on his daily walks with his cherished dog, Cara.

Denis is described by his loved ones as loyal, hardworking with a gentle caring nature and someone who would go above and beyond to help anyone in need.

It is hoped that people will now do the same for Denis and support him at a time when he truly needs it.

In just one day, the GoFundMe raised over €6,000 and should the target be surpassed, any additional money will be donated to Bantry Hospice.

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