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Galway mourns Saoirse Ruane – the mighty warrior who left a massive legacy

Saoírse Ruane’s death was revealed to the nation last Wednesday morning when many families were in the middle of the school run.

This warrior of Kiltullagh first graced the pages of this newspaper when raising money for prosthetic limbs after osteosarcoma – a rare form of bone cancer – led to her right leg being amputated when she was seven years old in late 2019.

It was early in the strictest cycle of the lockdown and all normal fundraising avenues were shut down. Loughrea musical dynamo Shane Farrell, who directed the Bravo Theatre Group of which she was a youth member, wanted to help.

He organised for a recording of the hit song Sing by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gary Barlow. Lending their voices with Saoírse and mum Roseanna were the Virtual Voices Choir, an initiative he had set up to get people singing during isolation.

The song captured the public imagination, attracting over 10,000 views and securing donations topping €161,000.

When she was invited onto the Late Late Toy Show eight months later to talk about how her life had been turned upside down, her calm positivity and resilience caused the nation to simply fall in love.

Former presenter Ryan Tubridy said it was Saoírse’s back story that led to the team launching the inaugural Late Late Toy Show Appeal that night.

Community Foundation Ireland chief executive Denise Charlton recalled how the appeal tally rocketed minutes after Saoírse appeared.

“The internet crashed,” she told RTÉ Radio. “People wanted to donate so much after she spoke. It was her story and her positivity and her generosity that evoked the generosity of others.” Over €6 million was donated in a few hours and since then more than €17.5 million has been raised by the annual appeal.

Caption: Saoírse Ruane’s photograph adorns her coffin at her Requiem Mass in St Peter and Paul’s Church, Kiltullagh, where a huge crowd turned out to pay their respects to a young lady who left a huge mark. Photo: Hany Marzouk.

There is full coverage of Saoirse’s story and funeral in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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