Tribute to Mal Reilly, a man who loved his life in Dunleer
One of his proudest moments was speaking at the opening of the Paddy Kieran’s CF Unit in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital
‘Life is not measured by the amount of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away’
Malachy Eamon Reilly was born on 21st Aug 1979 to Rosaleen (nee Shields) and Mal Reilly.
He was youngest member of the Reilly family and is survived by his sister Hilary (Kelly). He was predeceased by his 3 brothers, Joe and Jim (died in a fire in 1969), John and his sister Deirdre.
Mal was born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a condition that 2 of his brothers and 1 sister had. He immediately commenced on life lengthening treatment of medication and nebulisers. His parents never let CF define Mal. They were told that he wouldn’t live to see 12. The doctors were wrong and Mal lived with CF right up to his death. It was really very important to Mal that people wouldn’t think that he died from CF. We never thought that it would ‘get’ him and we were right.
He lived a completely normal childhood playing kerbs with his friends in Brookville, attending St. Patricks and St. Josephs Primary schools and then St. Josephs CBS, playing golf and singing in the Augustinian Junior choir. He always spoke of his childhood with great fondness and happiness.
He finished secondary school and attended DKIT completing a diploma in electronic engineering.It was here that our paths first crossed and we got to know each other from the hallways,
In fact we sat our first year exams beside each other in 1998. We also got to know each other from the Lourdes Hospital where I was training to be a nurse and where he spent time as a patient.
It was not until 2002 that we managed to get together on a Thursday night in ‘The Earth’ and became a couple. There are a lot of stories attached to this delay none of which we agreed on. I now just wish we could have become a couple sooner and I could have loved him longer.
The year after we met, Mal began working in Dunleer Post Office ‘just to help out for Christmas’ according to my Dad. He continued to work there up to and after Daddy died.
When Mam became ill in 2011 he took over its management. He loved the Post Office, the customers, the staff and everything that the village of Dunleer had to offer. He fitted right in, he loved Dunleer and Dunleer loved him.
We married on 25th March 2006 and were delighted to welcome Tara to our family in 2009 and then Charlie in 2011 after having 4 rounds of ICSI fertility treatment, once again achieving the impossible as he was told when growing up with CF that he would never have biological children.
We were so very happy together, having Tara and Charlie just added to our happiness. We felt complete.
Mal was THE most amazing Daddy, really and truly. He was never too busy for them. He played with them constantly, rarely missed a match or an event and provided the happiest home for them to grow up in. One of my toughest jobs now is to fill his shoes in Lego building and crocodile game chasing.
He had achieved so much in his 38 years, singing professionally, working full time, running a marathon, winning the Captains prize in Seapoint, teaching his children the guitar and how to paint but I know that he had so much more he wanted to achieve.
One of his proudest moments was speaking at the opening of the Paddy Kieran’s CF Unit in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
Between us we had ran 3 CF Charity Balls, 2 Marathons, a CD Launch and a Garden BBQ raising in excess of €50,000 towards the opening of the CF Unit. He was very passionate about getting better services for children with CF.
While many people would describe our family as a family of 4, we described it as a family of 5.
CF was the fifth member of our family, the black sheep. We had to look after it and never ignore it or it would make its presence very much known by making Mal sick. We could handle CF and everything it threw at us but when oesophageal Cancer came in May 2017, it came like an atomic bomb. We hadn’t a clue what to do except fight it with all the energy that he put into everything else in his life.
We knew from diagnosis that Mal’s cancer could not be cured. Chemo was torture but he persevered as there was a chance it would give him some extra time with us and he would have done anything for that.
Cancer took over our lives bit by bit, part by part.
Suddenly a good day was what a bad day used to be. We all had to get used to a ‘new normal’. Mal was amazing throughout his illness. Only those very close to us really saw his true bravery. We were very lucky that we were able to have Mal at home all through his illness.
Up to the moment he died things were as normal as they could be. Mal kissed Tara and Charlie goodnight at around 8:30pm and at 4:08am on Tues 6th Feb 2018 he took his last breath with me wrapped around him in our bed under a sign that reads ‘Love Lives Here’.
I know from speaking with everyone who came to offer their sympathy and support that Mal impacted many lives and was very highly regarded and I am overwhelmed with the support we are receiving from the Dunleer and Drogheda areas through the ‘Friends of Mal’ fundraising that was set up to help us financially due to Mal being prohibited from accessing any life insurance due to his CF.
I don’t think that Mal knew how much people thought of him. I can’t change that but I can assure you all that our children will know the amazing person that he was and your support is his legacy to them.
If you knew Mal, You knew him. He was just Mal. He was so much to so many; husband, daddy, son, brother, in-law, uncle, friend, singer, performer, musician, golfer, runner, friendly face of the Post Office, to put it into one word; Mal was a legend.
He was the absolute love of my life and the everything of our lovely little family. Mal was, is and should be remembered as amazing.
Till we meet again my Mal, till we meet again.
The late Mal Reilly