A major ‘Race Night’ fundraiser will take place tonight, Thursday 27 December at the Harbour Hotel at 8.30pm for Donal Madden, a former Galway rugby player who suffered a stroke and brain aneurysm last year.
Donal ‘Boots’ Madden’s (46) love of rugby was fostered in the Jes in Galway, where he won a number of honours and represented Connacht Schools at interprovincial level. On leaving school, Donal joined Galwegians, where he won the Connacht under 18 league and cup “double” in 1985 followed by the under-20 double in both 1986 and 1987. Among Donal’s under 18 team-mates at Galwegians was then relatively unknown Eric Elwood.
Donal graduated from UCG in 1988 and eventually settled in London in 1990, but always kept in close contact with his Galway friends. Not surprisingly, he followed Connacht rugby with zeal. With Donal’s family living in Salthill in Galway, he also maintained frequent visits and was never far removed from his Galway roots and the good natured slag and banter of his Galway friends.
However, Donal’s life was to change dramatically for the worse last year. While cycling home from work, he became light-headed and lost control of his bike. He had, in fact, suffered an aneurysm (burst blood vessel) in his brain, which led to a massive brain haemorrhage and then a stroke and paralysis to the left side of his body.
After two brain operations, Donal is now undertaking intensive but costly rehabilitation. The Rehab programme has been proving a success and he can now walk slowly with a stick. His physiotherapist believes that with further treatment he can regain the use of his arm and hand.
Donal’s Galway friends want to make this physiotherapy financially feasible and have rallied around to engage in a series of fundraising drives and personal contributions. Donal currently needs constant daily care in his battle to regain sufficient mobility to lead a normal life.
Tonight, 27 December, there will be a major fundraiser for Donal at the Harbour Hotel at 8.30pm. The ‘Support Donal’ Race Night promises to be a great night of Christmas goodwill and celebrations and admission is free.
There are fantastic prizes on offer, including two tickets to the Ireland vs England (rugby international) at the Aviva, including an overnight stay at the Radisson Hotel; two tickets to Bruce Springstein’s concert in Limerick; and an overnight stay for two at the Glasson Golf and Country House Hotel with green fees and a set of starter golf clubs.
Among the fabulous spot prizes on the night are weekends away, spa treatments, a signed Connacht rugby jersey, jewellery from Thomas Dillon and Richard Quinn, tickets to the Galway Arts Festival ‘Big Top’, electronic gadgets, and a barrel of Heineken for the thirsty.
Donal has been overwhelmed by the support in Galway and is making the journey to Galway to be there with his wife, Paula on the night.
“When I first emerged from my post-operative coma, the first thing my (now deceased) mother said to me was how fortunate I was to have the friends I do. This is something that I am now truly able to appreciate, despite the fact that I left Galway 24 years ago. I am very privileged to have been on the receiving end of some extraordinary acts of kindness from those who refused to ignore a friend in need. Many believe the traditional values of compassion and looking after your own were sacrificed to materialism during the ‘tiger’ years. I’m proud to say this has definitely not been my experience.”
Donal’s friends now hope that Galway natives will “pause and engage”, as the old rugby jargon goes, and show up on Thursday night to support one of Galway’s own. For more details, see www.supportdonal.com.