BY JACKIE KEOGH
HIS wife said he is ‘energetic, positive, engaging and very social.’
Dee Murnane is describing a man whose attitude and approach to life, after a road traffic accident left him in a wheelchair last September, has inspired all of Bantry.
His attributes and his ability to ‘draw people to him’ might account for the fact that a group of 25 friends have come together to set up the Ray Murnane Rehabilitation Fund.
The organisation is hoping to raise €50,000 to offset the cost of adapting the farmhouse he shares with Dee and their girls, Katie-Marie and Hannah, at Letterlickey, Bantry.
The money raised will also be used to buy a specialised wheelchair, and to replace the family’s Ford Focus with a larger, automatic car.
Aside from the fundraising committee, a small army of volunteers has signed up to help when it comes to actually carrying out the work to the farmhouse.
It is hoped that this work will be done before the end of March when Ray comes home after a three-month programme at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
It was in September 2015 that the life of this 45-year old man changed dramatically.
While travelling from his home to UCC – where he was attending the second week of his Master’s in Social Science – Ray was involved in a motorbike accident.
The impact caused a serious spinal injury, trauma to his chest and lungs, and also extensive facial injuries. Immediately after the accident, the West Cork Rapid Response Team arrived on the scene and Dr Jason van der Velde accompanied Ray by ambulance to CUH. There, he received immediate expert care and treatment in the intensive care unit.
After seven days in a critical condition, Ray was transferred to the Mater Hospital in Dublin for spinal surgery. And, one week later, he had extensive surgery to repair multiple facial and jaw fractures.
Ray was in intensive care and on a ventilator for four weeks and, on October 18th, he was transferred to the high dependency unit in CUH, where he spent a further three weeks.
The doctors have told Ray that he will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Ray, however, being Ray, has told his wife that with splints on both legs he is hoping to be able to navigate his way – five or six steps in each direction – in their newly adapted kitchen.
There will have to be numerous alterations and adaptations made to the three-bed farmhouse that has an upstairs loo. The living room, for example, will be turned into a bedroom with an accessible changing area and wet-room.
There is a Council grant towards the cost of this work, but it won’t cover everything.
Dee said: ‘Ray does have his up and down days, but he is very positive. He is happy to be alive – it was such a serious crash. His attitude is to work towards the best possible outcome.’
Ray and Dee are seeing that kind of positivity reflected all around them.
‘It’s been amazing, all the support,’ said Dee. ‘Everyone is rallying around. What is happening – in terms of the Go Fund Me campaign that has been set up and the Race Night fundraiser at The Maritime Hotel on Saturday, March 26th – is, I think, a reflection of what people see in him.’
While still in the high dependency unit, Ray was presented with his degree by the Head of the Department of Social Science and his lecturers from UCC.
And next September he has every intention of going back to finish his MA.
Ten years ago, Ray used to work in construction but he left that after becoming involved, on a voluntary basis, with underprivileged and marginalised young people.
That turned out to be a life-changing experience because he returned to education, initially studying Youth and Community, before progressing to a further three-year degree course in social science.
Ray’s fundraising race night is at The Maritime Hotel in Bantry on Saturday, March 26th at 8.30pm.
Tickets will be sold in local shops, but you can make a donation or find out more by checking out the Ray Murnane Rehab Fund Facebook page or https://www.gofundme.com/RayRehabFund.
Like her husband, Dee is grateful to people for being so kind.
She said: ‘I want to acknowledge the great sense of support from the whole community. Many thanks.’