Community rallies around Tony and family with series of fundraisers

August 21st, 2017 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

Tony and Ciara with twins, Eli and Evie, at a recent fundraising tractor run at Lisavaird. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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A West Cork community are rallying around a young man who has lost his sight through complications from diabetic eye disease.


A WEST Cork community are rallying around a young man who has lost his sight through complications from diabetic eye disease. 

Tony McCarthy (38) was faced with the devastation of losing his sight just after last Christmas and now he and his wife Ciara are pinning all their hopes on a medical breakthrough to help turn their lives around. 

And the community where they live at the Pike are making sure the family have everything they need and are fundraising to provide the young couple who are parents to two year old twins with financial stability. 

Tony, a plumber, developed Type 1 diabetes at the age of 19 and still doesn't fully understand why or how as he was neither overweight or unhealthy. 

He was managing his condition with twice daily injections until he woke one morning in December 2015 with  black, blurry spots on his eyes. Ater a visit to his optician he was sent straight to CUH. 

Ciara explains: ‘For the next three months things were up and down. He had a lot of laser done. He also had surgery in one eye – a vitrectomy – which was not successful and left him without any sight in his left eye. 

‘But he could still get around, walk down the street and all that,' Ciara said.

However, the situation dramatically worsened last October. 

‘We were to go Christmas shopping in Cork for the twins but when Tony woke he said he couldn't see a thing. We spent the day in casualty where it was discovered he had had a massive bleed. We were told to think about having surgery as there were risks involved but we decided to go ahead with it a few days before Christmas.'

It was a long and tough surgery and initially it was felt it went well but after a waiting period, it was found that Tony had also lost the sight in his right eye.

Several months later, with his life now dramatically changed, Tony said it is his kids, son Eli and daughter Evie, who keep him going: ‘I miss my independence. I'm an outgoing person and not the type to stay at home all day. I have good days and bad – the kids keep me going. Ciara is a great support but it is a fierce challenge.'

Ciara, who works four days a week for Capita in the Clonakilty Technology Park, agreed the situation was ‘challenging for everyone' and that they couldn't get by without help from both their mums.

She has been married to Tony since 2008 and said his bad days were few and far between. 

‘The kids keep him going – they don't know any different, but his lifestyle is quite restricted.

‘Some days are tougher than others, she admitted. ‘Those days all I seem to do is either give out or cry.'

The couple had started building a house when the recession took hold and had put the project on the back burner, renting near Sam's Cross, until Tony's brother Patrick came up with an idea to fundraise for them. 

‘It took me a while to get my head around it,' said Ciara. ‘But it's all about stability for the kids and for their future.'

The community responded very positively – with a committee headed up by Patrick and Ciara's brother Damien. Some fundraising events have already taken place, with more planned for the coming months.

They both agreed they get great comfort from the community support. 

‘The Pike is a great community – we are so lucky where we live,' said Ciara.

She explains that all funds raised will be used to either get the house project moving, or to avail of any suitable medical treatment that comes onstream.

‘Doctors feel that there's hope and that it's not far away,' she said. 

‘I have fierce hope of a miracle happening. I can't think that this is the way we'll be living forever.'

Tony agreed: ‘We will go anywhere, no matter what the cost – you have to hope that something will come on down the tracks.'

*Upcoming events for Tony and his family include a fundraiser in Reardon's bar in Cork city on August 25th as well as an evening's entertainment in the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery from 8pm on September 22nd. Further events are also in the pipeline, including setting up a GoFundMe page.For updates see the Tony McCarthy Family Fund Facebook page. 

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