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Coote featured in an RTÉ documentary called Walking the Walk. RTÉ

Tributes paid following death of motor neurone disease campaigner Fr Tony Coote

Fr Coote’s Walk While You Can campaign raised hundreds of thousands of euro for research.

TRIBUTES HAVE BEGUN pouring in for the much-loved priest and social justice campaigner Fr Tony Coote, who suffered from motor neurone disease, led by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. 

Fr Coote passed away yesterday evening surrounded by his mother Patricia and brothers David, Kieran and Pat. He was diagnosed with the disease in March last year and made it his mission to raise awareness of the disease and raise much-needed funds for research. 

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin expressed his sympathy to Father Coote’s mother, members of his family and all those who supported him during his long illness, especially his ever loyal priest friends.

In a statement, Archbishop Martin said: “Tony showed all of us how strength can be witnessed even in the face of human weakness. His courage and determination touched the hearts of people of all backgrounds. 

“His courage leaves all of us more humble. May the Lord welcome and give him the deep peace to which he witnessed in his suffering. May he rest in peace.” 

Fr Tony Coote who was administrator of St Therese’s Roman Catholic Church Mount Merrion and St Laurence O’Toole’s Roman Catholic Church in Kilmacud. 

His fundraising campaign Walk While You Can for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and to further research into motor neurone disease was extraordinary raised over €600,000.

His book Live While You Can which was published in May of this year, was both candid and moving. 

Half of the money raised from the walk was used to fund healthcare services for the 400 sufferers of MND in Ireland. 

The remainder of the money was earmarked for a research project headed up by consultant neurologist Professor Orla Hardiman of Trinity College Dublin which focused on better understanding how the disease progresses. 

The walk was the subject of a documentary on RTÉ called Walking the Walk. It followed Fr Coote’s journey through Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick and Cork. 

The programme showed how, along the way, people and communities turned out to welcome and support him. 

The Reverend Canon Gillian Wharton, Rector of Booterstown and Carysfort with Mount Merrion said it was with great sadness she heard of his passing. 

“It is with great sadness that I email you to tell you of the death of our neighbour. As you know, Tony was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in March 2018, and his form of the illness was aggressive,” Wharton said.

As his neighbouring parishes, we, along with so many others, prayed for Tony each day. Last September, after the United Harvest Thanksgiving Service in St Thomas’ Church, we raised €1,250. He was so appreciative of our effort, not for the money itself – although he was very glad to accept it on behalf of Walk While You Can – but for the neighbourliness, solidarity and fellowship that it represented. 

“Please pray for all those who have been deeply affected by Tony’s life and his death, and especially, his mother Patricia, his brothers David, Kieran and Pat, and all his family.” 

Funeral arrangements are to be announced later.

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