Friends of 'great character' from Limerick blown away by fundraiser response

Tom McGrath was cycling in the Dublin mountains when he had a severe heart attack on the side of the road
Friends of 'great character' from Limerick blown away by fundraiser response

Tom McGrath has been home five weeks now after a lengthy stay in hospital and rehab. Picture: Tom O'Donoghue

The friends and family of a Limerick man who suffered a life-changing brain injury have said they are "blown away" by the generosity of people to help fund his care.

Tom McGrath, originally from Kilfinane in Limerick, has been at home with his wife, Dympna, for five weeks now, following a lengthy stay in hospital and rehab. On October 10, 2021, he was cycling in the Dublin mountains with a friend before having a severe heart attack on the side of the road.

A long-time friend and one of the organisers of the fundraiser, Tom O’Donoghue, said Mr McGrath was “gone for a period of time". 

After being in a coma in St James Hospital for several weeks, Mr McGrath regained consciousness and was transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire at the start of September 2022 where he remained until recently.

In November, his wife Dympna noticed he had not spoken in a few days which, although not uncommon, sparked concern. Following tests, it was found that Mr McGrath had no further potential for brain development and had essentially lost his ability to speak.

Despite recommendations that he should go into care, Dympna just wanted him at home.

“That’s what they’ve been able to do, thankfully. He’s doing fine but he does need a lot of care and that’s the purpose of the fund, there’s a huge community of us out there, friends in Ballyboden St Endas and Club Limerick Dublin and every other walk of life he had, and people just wanted to do something tangible to support them,” said Mr O’Donoghue.

Although living in Dublin since the 1970s, Mr McGrath never lost his love for his home county and took immense pride and joy in Limerick’s recent hurling success. In 1973, when Limerick won the All-Ireland Hurling Final, Mr McGrath had to work on the family farm.

Mr O’Donoghue said:

He wasn’t bothered at all, he thought there would be another final the next year or the year after. 

However, it would not be for another 45 years before Limerick would win again in 2018, a very special day for Mr McGrath that was filled with “absolute delight and joy”.

Mr O’Donoghue said he and Mr McGrath’s family have been “blown away” by the generosity to the fundraiser which surpassed €26,000 in just under one week.

They have also taken comfort in comments left under the fundraiser which show how far-reaching Mr McGrath’s influence and kindness has been throughout his life.

“He’s just a really great character,” he said. “He’s in good form, he’s home five weeks now but unfortunately there’s no hope of improvement. He has no speech but he follows everything that goes on.”

Mr O’Donoghue said he was with Mr McGrath and his wife Dympna at their home on Saturday to see Ireland win.

“He had a few laughs along the way listening to the stories, and I said 'if the last few years have taught us anything it’s that the team wearing green always wins,’ and he was grinning away,” he said. 

Mr O’Donoghue said there will be no “miracle recovery” coming but with funds raised, Mr McGrath will continue to be able to live at home with his wife with the help of additional care.

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