By Dan Dooner
Cian’s Kennels is a Longford-based charity set up in memory of Cian Neary, who passed away last September having been diagnosed with cancer at the age of fifteen.
The charity, which was inspired by the love and devotion Cian’s Labrador ‘Cooper’ brought him towards the end of his life, aims to raise funds to provide kennels for children’s pets to be housed near Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Dublin.
Cian’s parents, Enda and Evelyn, believe the initiative will bring a measure of comfort to young patients and their families.
Evelyn said: “Cian’s Kennels was set up in memory of our son Cian who passed away last September. Cian was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma in September 2018. He received treatment for nine months and things improved, but then in June 2019 he became very ill and we spent last summer in hospital with him, staying at Ronald McDonald House for most of that time. We always had hope that we would be that family who experienced a miracle but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“Cian was the light of our lives, and the eldest of our two boys. He was sporty, and played soccer with Longford Town and GAA with Killashee. He also played guitar and loved socialising with his friends; he was great craic and could light up a room.
“He got his Labrador, Cooper, after his diagnosis and at first we were wary of the dog jumping up on him or being too boisterous around him. But it was almost like Cooper knew he had to be careful around Cian! We wanted to honour the bond they had with one another because Cooper was very special to Cian”.
Cooper offered a level of comfort and companionship to Cian and his family at a very difficult time and Evelyn believes other children going through a similar experience would benefit from having their pets close by.
“It was actually Cian who first got the ball rolling on this really. In his own quiet way he somehow managed to convince the hospital staff to allow Cooper in to visit, which was some achievement!
“At the time of Cian’s funeral it was something that we had in our minds but there was no concrete plan. Word got out though and Brendan Considine, who lost his sister and brother in a short space of time, approached us as he was aiming to complete a cycle from Malin Head to Mizen Head and wanted to raise funds for us. At that stage we had no bank account and weren’t registered as a charity. Brendan was a catalyst and the charity was set up just before the outbreak of Covid-19”.
Cian’s Kennels has received plenty of local support so far and apart from Brendan Considine’s charity cycle there are two other local events planned to raise funds.
On July 4th, local girl Michaela Cox will complete a sponsored head shave, while on July 15th the O’Boyle sisters will swim 4km for three charities, including Cian’s Kennels. Further details are available on the Cian’s Kennels page on Facebook.
“Because we can’t physically get to the hospital at the moment we have come up with another way of getting the word out and supporting families. County Photos in Roscommon have come on board and we’re asking families to send photographs of their pets to email@example.com and Emmet Collins and his team will sponsor printing and framing of photographs so that kids can have a framed photo of their dog while in hospital,” Evelyn added.
It’s just another way of offering a measure of the comfort and companionship that loyal Cooper brought his brave best friend Cian Neary when he needed it most.