BY MARY MCCARTHY
CAHERAGH Threshing will celebrate its 25th anniversary next month, in the grounds of the Traveller’s Rest pub.
‘Each year, it starts with a lone piper leading a vintage parade and the thresher from the church to the park,’ according to Kathleen Kirby, secretary of Caheragh Threshing.
‘Everyone loves the hospitality of a cup of tea, when old friends meet and memories are rekindled.’
This is the highlight of the year in a parish where volunteerism shines, said Kathleen. ‘It is a day where we invite people to come and enjoy the activities. It has a reputation of being a very good family day out.’
There is a bouncy castle and face painting for children, and karting for teenagers. And for everyone else, there is more. Period costumes, a pig on a spit, traditional music playing and side shows like wellington throwing, crazy golf, and bowl pitching are all part of the amusement. The dog show, sheep shearing and the wheel of fortune add life to this annual occasion.
‘Different nationalities in the community are all willing to help,’ noted Kathleen. ‘Everyone is welcome to be part of it and enlarging the membership is required for planning and teamwork to meet this yearly challenge and achievement.’
‘This great idea started over a few pints,’ according to local farmer and chairperson, DJ Dineen. ‘It happened late one night in November 1999 when Timmy O’Sullivan, Michael Kirby and barman Kieran O’Neill were in conversation in the pub.
They imagined how this yearly event would take place. They saw it as a unique opportunity of a day out, where like in olden times, a thresher would knock off grain from the head of the corn.’
‘Its success was built by supporting Cork’s Breakthrough Cancer Research charity,’ he said, ‘because everyone is touched by this disease. It is testament to the farmers, friends of Caheragh Threshing and the local community spirit. In the first year, around £7,000 was raised. People are not shy to spend or donate.’
In recent times, donations of between €12,000 and €14,000 have been collected on the day. However, flag days have gathered more – from €65,000 to €80,000 for this great cause.
‘Our vision is 100% survival for 100% of cancers,’ according to Orla Dolan of Breakthrough Cancer Research, who works there alongside her brother Eoghan.
‘This is the legacy that was inspired by our father, Prof Gerry O’Sullivan,’ she said, ‘who came from a farming background in Caheragh. He worked as a consultant surgeon and was often referred to as an extraordinary, ordinary man,’ she added.
‘One in two are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime,’ explained Orla, ‘but Gerry believed the future is not set. He imagined the best way to create the future is to invent it. The mechanism of research was what he had confidence in to unlock new ways of targeting and treating cancer.’
As part of the 2000 Millennial project, Gerry set up a research centre between UCC and the Mercy Hospital in Cork, and the charity was established. However, he knew the support of his community was needed to raise funds to succeed at this care.
‘My father possessed a real belief in curing cancer and had an infectious enthusiasm saying “we will do it; we can do it”,’ according to Orla. ‘His love of history informed him of how progress was made in different ways from fire, the wheel and landing on the moon. He brought ideas from the lab to the clinic and lives have changed and been extended because of it.’
A man of genius, Gerry read everything on his field and beyond, Orla recalled. Collaboration was important to him. He will be remembered for making ground breaking observations, including noticing the connection between the immune system and cancer. And that paved the way for immunotherapy.
‘Research brings the public a sense of hope,’ Orla said. ‘Families can be spared the conversation that there is nothing left to try. A different ending is possible.’
• The 25th Caheragh Threshing event takes place in the village on Sunday, October 8th.