Sinéad Walsh

Shave or Dye – The Walsh family

It was in the summer of last year, when the Walsh family from Mayo received the devastating news of daughter Sinéad’s cancer diagnosis, that they began to truly discover the meaning of the term community.

As any concerned parents would, Margaret and Brendan were straight up to Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin (now Children's Health Ireland) to be by their 13-year-old daughter’s side as she underwent life-saving treatment.

“Our neighbours were just incredible at that time,” recalls mum Margaret. “They went out and looked after the farming for us over the summer, brought home the turf and provided dinners for Sinéad’s sisters while we were up in Dublin. We didn’t have to think about a thing, all we had to do was be there for her.”

The Walsh family were beginning to gain an appreciation that their local community in Hollymount and the surrounding area would stop at nothing to support them through everything.

The family received support through the Irish Cancer Society’s Children’s Fund, and with treatment thankfully progressing well for Sinéad, her sister Ciara along with family friends the Geraghtys happened on the idea to do a Shave or Dye fundraiser to help others who are going through the same journey.

“I was in a lecture in college when we first put it up, with the original target of €500,” says Ciara.

“I don’t think I listened to a single thing in that lecture because every two minutes the phone was pinging, and by the time the lecture was over we’d already smashed the target.”

The idea only picked up pace from there, with local GAA teams Hollymount-Carramore and Hollymount LGFA lending their support, along with the nearby crèche, Robeen National School and Ballinrobe Secondary School who raised money through jersey and pyjama days, and local media who covered the event.

Word soon spread to Klassy Kuts in Ballinrobe, who kindly made their premises available for the big weekend.

When it finally arrived on 1st October, 13 brave souls chose to either shave or dye their hair, with pride of place and all-important possession of the razor going to Sinéad.

“She had a great time, I just hope she doesn’t get used to it!” quips dad Brendan, one of those who went under the razor.

Even after the locks fell and the dye was cast in the salon, that wasn’t the end of it. Those participating noticed the event had taken on a life of its own, with some funky dos spotted all around town in support of the effort.

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Everyone was looking very colourful at mass the next day!

Ciara Walsh
Walsh shave or dye group

Indeed donations kept coming in for months afterwards, and in a nice development the family were able to celebrate reaching the incredible milestone of €21,000 on Christmas Day.

As for the woman at the centre of it all, mum Margaret says Sinéad is doing well six months into her treatment: “We’re just waiting to start the next phase now which is maintenance, so we’re just looking forward to getting back to life, back to school and hopefully even a bit of football training during the summer.

“We’re just so grateful to all the staff, nurses and doctors both in Crumlin and in Castlebar for all the help they’ve given us since Sinéad has been diagnosed, as well as to the local community.”

Sister Ciara adds: “I’d definitely encourage anyone who’s considering doing a Shave or Dye fundraiser to get involved. It really brings everyone together, and we had great fun doing it.”