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Mitchell sisters ready for independent living


Ciara Galvin

‘POSITIVITY, good will and generosity’ are the words Kathleen Mitchell has used to describe the reaction by communities in funding her daughters’ independent living project.
Communities in Sligo and Westport raised over €240,000 to build specially adapted dwellings for Mairéad and Aoibheann Mitchell, who are living with the debilitating Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP).
Kathleen hails from the well-known McDonnell family from Carramore, Liscarney, Westport and lives in Knocknarea, Co Sligo with husband Hilary.
Last year the communities rallied in both counties to raise as much money as possible to help fund the project to allow the Mitchell sisters to move into their own houses in a step towards independent living.
Speaking to The Mayo News ahead of the open viewing of the houses this week, Kathleen said her daughters are looking forward to the move, but understandably there is a certain degree of anxiety about leaving home.
“It’s a wonderful time … they [the houses] are future proofed and the fact more money was raised means we were left in a great position to finish them to a high standard,” said Kathleen.
The houses, which have been built in accordance with Wheelchair Association’s Best Practice Access Guidelines, are a short distance from the family home.
The Westport native said at the beginning of the fundraising efforts the family felt like there was a ‘massive mountain to climb’.
“We started with heavy hearts but when we saw the committees organising loads of events, honestly, it was so uplifting, such good will,” said Kathleen.
The fundraising campaigns received donations from all corners of the country, according to Mairéad and Aoibheann’s mother.
“I want to say a massive thank you to the Westport committee and community and all the businesses and hotels who gave so generously, they just didn’t give it a second thought, there was so much positivity … we will be forever grateful to them.”
The open days to view the houses take place this Friday and Saturday from 11am to 4pm with the official opening at 3pm on Friday, performed by Noel Grealish, TD, and Ciarán Hayes (Chief Executive, Sligo County Council). All are welcome to attend.