GALLERY: Billy Leahy leaves a lasting legacy to his parish

Up to eight defibs under the Billy Leahy Memorial Defibrillator Project

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

darren.hassett@kilkennypeople.ie

Two defibrillators purchased from the proceeds of the Billy Leahy Memorial Defibrillator Project have been unveiled with plans for many more to come.

A niece of Billy’s, Rhonda Flynn, spoke at an event in O’Loughlin Gaels clubhouse last Friday where the first of the defibs was revealed.

The family learned of the project and Billy’s involvement back in February. The defib initiative had begun with the DigiFen group - of which Billy was a member at the time - in the Newpark Close Family Resource Centre with the help of Margaret Lanigan.

In the wake of Billy’s passing in January, the next month a coffee morning was planned to raise funds in the centre for the project.

“Our family was asked that the launch be called the Billy Leahy Memorial Defibrillator Project,” said Rhonda. “Our response was an easy ‘Yes’.

“It’s bittersweet to know that the community wanted to dedicate such an important piece of equipment as a tribute to Billy. To stand here less than two months after the coffee morning for the unveiling of not one but two defibs is an accolade to the overwhelming response and people’s enthusiasm and generosity.”

The first defib will be placed in St John’s Church with more to come for the parish.

“Billy always kept in mind what was needed in the parish,” said John McGuinness TD.

The Project has already purchased two defibs and are on the way to getting funds to buy “another couple”.

“Eurospar Newpark has come on board and put a defibrillator outside their shop,” he said. “O’Loughlin Gaels are also on board, they’ve upgraded their one - that’s four.

“We’re also in talks with Nowlan Park and with MacDonagh Junction, bringing the count up to six. We’re on the way.”