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In memory of Fiona Byrne

Fiona Byrne Medium Web view


Fiona was born on 11th August 1971 in Banbridge Hospital, the second in a family of three to Brendan and Nuala Byrne. As Fiona was born with spinabifida, she was immediately transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and was given 24 hours to live. When she was allowed to come home, the ward sister told Brendan and Nuala to ‘take her home and love her’ as her time was short. But Fiona had other ideas and hours turned into days and into weeks and into years – 48 years of joy and happiness she shared with her family who adored her.

Fiona attended St. Mary’s Primary School in Banbridge where she was treated exactly the same as all the other pupils. The practicalities of the school building meant she had to transfer schools so she went to Fleming Fulton school in Belfast as a border and loved it. She learned to swim amongst other sport, including wheelchair races! Fiona was a very popular pupil and, to this day, two of the staff come to see her every year. After Fleming Fulton, Fiona finished her education at Southern Regional College in Banbridge where she undertook the Pathfinders Course for Disabled Young Adults.

Fiona certainly had her share of ill health and was in and out of hospital constantly with kidney problems. At one point she had to travel to the Whittington Hospital in Manchester a couple of days every month to have lithotripsy to shatter kidney stones.

Fiona was an extraordinary young woman – she bore a lifetime of disability with such patience and good humour. So many times over the years when Nuala and Brendan were so concerned about her, she would just say ‘Don’t worry about me. I’ll survive!’ Over the last few years especially, when she needed to go on dialysis, it was very difficult as she suffered so many seizures. When her friends in the TLC would ask her how she felt after the seizure, she would just shrug her shoulders sand say ‘fine, sure I knew nothing about it’!

Fiona loved the TLC every Tuesday – rain, hail or shine. She was loved by everyone there and kept them all in craic, as well as creating some masterpieces. She played her part in everything and created beautiful pieces for the TLC Christmas tree at a recent tree festival in the local Church of Ireland. Her hobby was plastic cross stitch which demanded great patience, but she was brilliant at it. Her last words leaving the Den last Tuesday was she was looking forward to the Christmas Dinner and she’d bring her own drink!!

She looked forward every second Thursday evening going shopping with her friend Sylvia and they were to do their Christmas shopping this week.

Of course, Daniel O’Donnell was always her favourite singer. Nearly thirty years ago, she even got the young curate, Fr. Loughran, to take her to one of his concerts!

Much as Fiona was loved and admired by everyone who knew her, it was her family that Fiona loved the most. She absolutely idolised her sister Susanne and her brother Brendan. Her face always lit up when recounting stories of what they did for her. Uncle Edward and Aunt Rene, Aunt Anne and Uncle Dessie all meant the world to her and she loved teasing them. Of course, when the nephew and nieces arrived she became the very proud auntie.

She certainly was an inspirational young woman and her courage and patience were something to be admired. She never, ever complained!

When that ward sister told Nuala and Brendan to ‘take her home and love her’, little did they know over the next 48 years, Fiona would come to be loved by thousands of people and every one of those people have been touched, in some way, by her.




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