Ballinasloe’s Fairy Doors provide lifeline for hospital in Peru

Sean Óg Ó hHailpin with Cathal Cregg and Dr Jackie Pando Kelly at the launch of the fairy door fundraiser at Cuckoo Hill Boot Camp, Taughmaconnell.

A Ballinasloe businessman has opened up a world of fundraising for a remote hospital in Peru – with his handmade Fairy Doors!

Cathal Cregg began making the Fairy Doors for family and friends – but he quickly grew his idea into a major fundraiser for the Mama Ashu hospital in the Peruvian Andes.

The hospital is in the remote town of Chacas, which is situated at 3,359 meters above sea level, three times the height of Carrantuohill.

And the imaginative concept grew to a whole new level earlier this month when former Cork senior hurling star Sean Og O hAilpin came to Ballinasloe to officially open the door to Fairy World at Cuckoo Hill boot camp.

It marked the latest stage in an endeavour that had its roots in another charitable undertaking – when Cathal volunteered with the Irish Pilgrimage trust in Lourdes, an organization that helps young people with special needs travel to Lourdes every Easter.

While there he met Dr Jackie Pando Kelly of UCC, who is of Peruvian descent herself and who had begun volunteering at Mama Ashu hospital as a medical student.

The area is extremely disadvantaged with little medical services available to the locals; the doctors and nurses, who are mostly Italian and Peruvian, are there on a completely voluntary basis.

And without their help, 8,000 people would be denied medical care.

Cathal and Dr Pando Kelly first decided to write a book of poetry together called ‘Hello in There’, which captures the beauty of Chacas, but also the hardship. The book has helped raise thousands for the hospital to date.  And when the duo reached out to hurling legend Sean Og about a possible Fairy Door fundraiser, he was on board instantly.

“He said he was in immediately, we didn’t have to ask him twice,” said event organizer Cathal Cregg.

Sean Og officially opened Fairy World in an event that saw up to 400 people in attendance.

Children and adults alike were able to decorate their own fairy doors and put them around the three-acre plot of land provided by the Cuckoo Hill boot camp.

A total of 160 fairy doors were sold on the day and all proceeds were put towards medication and equipment for the Mama Ashu hospital.

Cathal, who is a skilled craftsman, personally makes all the fairy doors by hand, while his family and friends do the decorating.

“We even had doctors and nurses in the hospital painting fairy doors for the fundraiser,” he said.

For those who would like to donate to the Mama Ashu hospital, visit hellointhere.ie