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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Leah Farrell
# tributes
Book of condolences for Vicky Phelan opened in Limerick
Cllr Daniel Butler, who presented Vicky Phelan with the freedom of the city nine months ago, called her a ‘national hero.’

IN VICKY PHELAN’S adopted home of Limerick, even the unseasonal sunshine on Shannonside couldn’t dry the tears brought by her death.

A book of condolence was opened at City Hall, the headquarters of Limerick City and County Council where the tricolour flew at half-mast as a mark of respect for the Kilkenny mother of two who was awarded the Freedom of the City last February.

Some on the streets of the Treaty City fought back tears when asked to sum up what the cancer campaigner means to them.

Welling up, Pauline Ryan, from Dooradoyle, paid tribute:

“It’s so sad, Vicky fought so hard, god love her and her family, I’ll remember her for the battle that she had and the (patients) that she stood up for, especially the ladies with cervical cancer, they had been forgotten about – Vicky put it out there.”

“I hope we learn…” mused Ryan.

On the night she was made a Freewoman of Limerick, Vicky Phelan, 48, despite her failing health, brought her trademark steely determination.

Speaking at the ceremony, held at Limerick County Hall nine months ago, Vicky told reporters she wanted to be remembered as “someone who asks questions…that’s really what I would advise anybody to do, so I suppose my legacy is that I would hope people would learn to stand up for themselves”.

The Book of Condolence is open online for one week. All messages of sympathy will be printed and presented in a Book of Condolence to the Phelan family.

Mayor of Limerick City and County, Cllr Francis Foley also paid tribute, stating Vicky Phelan had “tirelessly campaigned for better healthcare for women, her search for answers uncovered the CervicalCheck scandal and she used her voice to advocate and support other women who had been affected and were fighting for justice”.

Vicky’s funeral details have yet to be announced, however it is understood pop star Bressie will sing at the ceremony, and Galway rockers The Stunning were also expected to perform their hit, and Phelan’s favourite song, the aptly-titled “Brewing Up A Storm”.

Back on the city’s streets today, Limerick shopper Toni Kearney, of Old Cratloe Road, summed up the people’s reaction to news of the passing of their adopted heroine:

“If there’s a bigger honour than the Freedom of the City, then Vicky should be given it; she deserves it because there’s hundreds of women, probably thousands of women alive now, because of her, because now people are more aware and they know not to always believe everything they (are told), to double check everything, that’s down to Vicky, she has saved lives, that’s the truth.”

“She was someone to be admired, may she Rest In Peace.”

Fine Gale councillor, Daniel Butler, who was Mayor of Limerick when he presented Vicky Phelan with the freedom of the city, offered:

“From Limerick’s perspective Vicky became ‘our Vicky’, there is a love affair between the people of Limerick and Vicky and today that love is being expressed in heartbreak and hurt, as we try to come to terms with the loss of a colossus who has inspired us, a national heroine, a national hero, and somebody who has saved lives and changed our country for the better.”

He also paid tribute to Vicky’s open support for allowing people, particularly with life debilitating and terminal illnesses, the choice to be medically assisted to die in order to end their suffering.

“Vicky has empowered us all as a people dealing with the medical system, in particular women, that has to be noted, and she has also changed our relationship with death, that was a national conversation that was created by her, which makes us a healthier society.”

“She changed Ireland for the better, she has taught us how to live our lives, and that living our lives is not just about us, it’s about the greater good as well, and that’s the way Vicky lived her life.”

With additional reporting from Jamie McCarron

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