The Finnegan family at Lucas’ communion in May. From left: Sisters Collette and Tracey, mother Patricia, son Lucas O’Reilly, Louise O’Reilly, father Eamon and brother Kevin Finnegan.

‘We just have to keep hopeful and pray’

A fundraiser has been set up for Crosslerlough woman Louise O’Reilly who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone (MND) Disease recently.

A passionate hairdresser, who worked in The Hair Care Centre in Ballyjamesduff for over 17 years, Louise spent her days chatting with her customers, playing sports and taking care of her nine-year-old son Lucas.

“She was always outgoing, a bubbly character, massive into football,” Louise’s sister Tracey described.

“She supports Crosserlough, Cavan, we would have attended every game and we still do. We need that in our lives!”

In June 2021, Louise started to get blisters in her mouth and noticed her speech was slurred. She attended her GP but no antibiotics would cure the blisters. Not once did Louise or the Finnegan family think MND was to blame.

Five months after first noticing symptoms, studies and tests at Beaumont Hospital concluded Louise had contracted MND at just 39 years of age.

“It changed all of our lives. Unfortunately everything was turned upside down,” recalled Tracey.

“She’s the third person within a mile of three houses to be diagnosed in the last seven years. It’s very strange,” added Lousie’s concerned sister.

“There’s more and more [people] in Ireland being diagnosed with it every year.”

Tracey remembered the news came just one week before RTE’s Charlie Bird shared his experience on The Late Late Show.

“In a way that helped us, listening to his story.”

The disease progressed from the head down to the rest of her body, eventually leaving Louise wheelchair bound.

“We can just see a massive difference in Louise, nearly every week there’s something different.”

Her saving grace through her struggles has been a new technology known as smart box, which Louise received last year allowing her to communicate with her family again.

“It has been a new lease of life for Louise to communicate with us,” Tracey said, explaining that it is a tablet on a stand, which speaks for her.

“As you can imagine losing your voice and being silent 24/7, it’s very hard on her and very hard for everyone coming to see her.”

The family explored trials in Sheffield in the UK and Canada to halt the progression of the disease. However Louise’s genes meant she was incompatible.

Last week, the family found a trial in Australia, which they hope Louise can take part in.

“There’s nothing here in Dublin,” said Tracey.

“We are in talks with a medicine agency in Australia and it’s hopeful so we’re trying to keep positive.

“No one has a cure for it but, to slow down the progression, is what our main aim is,” she said.

“We just have to keep hopeful and pray that something will work.”

Louise’s son Lucas is a massive support to his mother: “He understands what’s happening, he’s very good to her and knows exactly what she wants.

“We mightn’t know what she wants but he knows it.”

Tracey set up the fundraiser on August 5 in order to raise money to go towards sending Louise for trials, as well as to cover medical appointments and a wheelchair accessible van.

“It will just take a bit of stress off Louise and the family,” said Tracey.

The fundraiser has already surpassed €20,000 on its way to its €50,000 target.

Donations can be made here: