GAA legend’s boots up for grabs in fundraising auction

The McIvor family during their time in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit in Belfast. Pictured, from left, Franky, older brother Rian with daddy Cormac and mummy Sinead
The McIvor family during their time in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit in Belfast. Pictured, from left, Franky, older brother Rian with daddy Cormac and mummy Sinead
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A Tyrone couple has expressed astonishment at the level of public generosity since they launched a fund-raising raffle for the Royal Maternity Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit.

Sinead and Cormac McIvor, from Ballinderry, have a special tie with the neo-natal unit as their son Franky was treated there and, sadly, passed away early last year from a rare condition.

The couple wanted to give something back to the unit in memory of Franky who, they say, received first class treatment in January of last year. The staff were also supportive towards them.

They set up a ‘Justgiving’ page to allow members of the public to make a donation and already exceeded the £3,000 mark.

“We would have been happy with £1,000 and left at that but the public response has been incredible,” said Sinead.

As part of the fund-raising, Tyrone GAA legend Owen ‘Mugsy’ Mulligan kindly donated a pair of his boots that have kicked many winning points in the past.

Everyone who donates to the neo-natal appeal, no matter how big or small, will be entered into a draw with a chance of winning Mugsy’s previous boots.

Sinead said although it’s over a year since Franky passed, a lot of people still come up to her and say that they lost a child or had a child treated in the neonatal unit and praise the work of the staff

“The staff and facilities at the Royal were excellent and made a devastating time in our lives just about bearable,” she said. “Knowing that Franky was getting the best medical care possible gave us hope. But, Franky didn’t make it and he died peacefully in the NICU just 20 days after he was born.

“But for so many other families their story comes with a happy ending. Each year hundreds of babies get stronger and better and go home to lead full, healthy lives with their families.”

Sinead stressed that “every penny” of the money raised would go towards neo-natal unit equipment, staff training and resources for family members staying with ill babies.

“This time is heartbreaking but also very special in terms of making memories. The right resources and support can help families cope and continue with life after loss,” she said. “Mugsy is a GAA legend and his personalised boots are a little piece of history.

“Who can forget Mulligan’s great goal against Dublin right in front of the hill or his infamous battles with Armagh hard man Francie Bellew. “Be the lucky winner of his boots and you’ll own a bit of the Mugsy magic!”