Major crowd expected to attend service of remembrance for donor families

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend the Irish Kidney Association’s 29th annual service of remembrance and thanksgiving which will be held at Galway Cathedral on Saturday at 12.30pm.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, who is the patron of the IKA, will be the guest of honour at the event. It will pay tribute to organ donors and their families. This is the first time in almost 30 years that the service is being held outside Dublin.

Afterwards the president will attend a special event at the Circle of Life national commemorative garden for organ donors at the nearby Quincentennial Park in Salthill at 2pm. The facility highlights the importance of organ donation and is the first of its kind in the country. People whose lives have been touched by organ donation will recite poems, sing, play music and dance at the event.

It was set up by Spiddal husband and wife Denis and Martina Goggin who lost their only child Eamonn in a car crash in 2006. In keeping with his wishes his organs were donated. The couple went on to form a charity, Strange Boat Donor Foundation, to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. They decided to set up a national commemorative garden “to remember and give thanks for the lives and generosity of spirit of all organ donors”.

Galway man Stephen O’Sullivan, who is the honorary national chairman of the Irish Kidney Association, will greet the President and welcome the congregation to this unique service.

The annual service also marks the anniversary of the production of the Book of Remembrance. It contains a Roll of Honour for organ and tissue donors and has been an integral part of the service since its inception.

This symbolic service is a mixture of sadness and joy for the families of organ donors and transplant recipients who attend, according to the IKA. For many donor families this service has become an anniversary to both remember their loves ones and for transplant recipients to honour and give thanks for the gift of life they have received.

President Higgins will begin the Service of Light by lighting the first candle from the Easter candle. Each member of the congregation will carry a lit candle to the altar, to the accompanying sound of the uillean pipes played by famed Galway musician Michael Vignoles.

Members of Transplant Team Ireland, who in August 2014 participated in the 8th European Transplant and Dialysis Sports Championships in Krakow, will also take part in the event.

The congregation will include members of organ donor families and transplant recipients, together with leading members of the medical and nursing profession and transplant co-ordinators.

Among the readers at the service will be Mr David Hickey, kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon and the director of transplantation at Beaumont Hospital as well as the newly appointed nephrologist at Galway University Hospital, Niamh Kiernan. Other readers will include Angeline Cooke from Maunsell’s Road, a founder member of the IKA and a transplant recipient, and Galway City Mayor Cllr Donal Lyons. The final reflection Beannacht composed by the late John O’Donohue, will be read by Martina Goggin.

Organ donor families may view their entry in the Book of Remembrance at Galway Cathedral for a short time prior to the service at 12.30pm and afterwards at a reception at the Galway Bay Hotel which follows after Circle of Life garden event.

People interested in getting an organ donor card should Freetext the word DONOR to 50050 or log on to It is also possible to download an organ donor card on smartphones by searching for Donor ECard at the iphone store or android market place. Your wishes to be an organ donor can also be included on the new format driving licence which is represented by Code 115.


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