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Kilrush native Mick Clancy is urging people to support fundraising tea days for MND in the month of march. Photo: John Kelly.

Tireless Mick supports others with MND


KILRUSH native Mick Clancy is firm believer that his glass is always half full. “Sometimes I think that someone has stolen my glass, and put a smaller one in its place,” he laughs, “but still, to me, the glass is half full.”

Such resilience in the face of a Motor Neurone Disease (MND) diagnosis is just one of the reasons why Mick is successfully battling the odds and working to help others with the same disabling neurological condition.”There’s an expression we use a lot in Ireland and it’s ‘never trouble trouble, until trouble troubles you’,” he remarks. “That’s the way I see it, because there’s no point in worrying about what you can’t change.”

Diagnosed with a rare type of MND in 2016, Mick has adapted as best he can, staying active and participating in research and fundraising with the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA). Always a physically fit and powerful man, Mick was born and raised in West Clare where he played rugby and worked with the ESB for over seven years. He and his wife Monique settled down in Castletroy and raised a family of six. Working in his father-in-law’s precision engineering business, Mick earned himself the nickname ‘MacGyver’ for his unfailing ability to fix the seemingly unfixable. He also got involved in rugby as a referee and a key administrative officer. Mick was enjoying a busy life with family and work, when he experienced a year of heartbreak. Just two months after his mother, Celia Clancy (née Prendergast) passed away, his beloved Monique died suddenly at the age of just 52. Struggling with grief, Mick then received a diagnosis of the debilitating MND. “It was a very, very bad year,” he admits. “That October, I was diagnosed having been told previously that I might have a very rare form of MND. I had found myself losing power in my arms and legs and the process of diagnosis is one of elimination so it can take a while.”

With characteristic courage, Mick has played the hand life dealt him. Within a year of the diagnosis, he became an ambassador with IMNDA for its key fundraiser ‘Drink Tea for MND’. When it comes to getting out and raising funds, Mick describes himself as “shy, but willing”. “When people see my shaking a bucket at Supervalu, they know I’m the Real McCoy,” he says. “I have great friend and support to get the fundraising message out.”

Mick is also actively engaged in supporting the research work of Professor Orla Hardiman at Beaumont Hospital and Trinity College Dublin (TCD). “I can keep in touch with Professor Hardiman and her team remotely now through an app where they can track my condition,” he explains. “I have a rarer form of MND and estimate that I have another ten to 12 years. I have a slightly more benign form and can take years for it to develop. Stephen Hawking had this form and lived with it for over 40 years. People with the more common type of MND aren’t that lucky. I’m doing as much as I feel safe doing. My speech is affected, but I have learned to slow it down a bit, so that people can understand me. Professor Hardiman’s team can tell if there’s any change, but I’m at a bit of a plateau now. Getting involved in the research is really important because, there isn’t really any treatment for MND yet. It isn’t really high profile. It doesn’t affect that many people so the drugs companies are less interested in medicines and treatments. Even if the research doesn’t benefit me, it will help people getting diagnosed in the future.”

“March is a key month in the IMNDA calendar with tea-drinking fundraisers taking place all over the country. Full details are available on Imnda.ie, while those wishing to donate can text MND to 50300 to give €2. IMNDA has six specialist nurses who provide expert care and advice.

The government contributes only 15% of what’s needed annually to support people and their families and carers,” Mick says. “IMNDA does great work, but it needs that funding and that’s why its events are so important.”

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