Mags Deane Smith surrounded by her family.

Lavey community rally around Mags and family

The people of Lavey and the wider Cavan community are rallying around to support a woman struggling with a spinal deformity, writes Molly O'Reilly.

Margaret Deane Smith, better known as ‘Mags,’ has endured excruciating pain in her back for the past 20 years. But a specialist operation to ease her suffering and fundraising is underway to cover the cost.

Mags has been diagnosed with Sagittal Imbalance Kyphosis. This causes chronic pain in her back, loss of balance, loss of mobility, muscle wastage and further problems with her spine.

Health professionals have said that a specialist procedure in London represents the best chance of relieving Mags’ pain and improving her quality of life.

But it costs up to €200,000.

The ‘Help Mags Find Relief’ group was spearheaded by Mags’ sister in law Carmel Smith.

Catriona Smith, another of the group, spoke to the Celt. They’re appealing for support for their friend.

“She couldn’t wait for the HSE, the pain she is in, she doesn’t get to have a life,” said Catriona.

The procedure and surgeon have delivered promising results for people like Mags. The operation would take place in London and Mags will need 14 days’ post operative care.

The operation will not cure Mags completely but it’s expected to provide great relief.

“The procedure is worth a shot if it can help. She could try and get some sort of life back - it has been pushed back to August (the consultation), so it gives us some more time to fundraise,” explained Catriona.

An online page has been created to help raise the necessary funds (idonate HelpMagsFindRelief) with over €60,000 already generated such is Mags’popularity.

A number of fundraising events are also in the pipeline for Cavan and also Mags’ native Mayo.

The Virginia Gospel Choir will perform in St Dympna’s Church (H12W586) on June 20, at 8pm, in a special fundraising concert. Doors will open at 7:30pm, tickets cost €20 and can also be purchased at the door.

There will also be a cake sale on July 6 after Mass in Inver and on July 7 in Glenamoy, and Aughoose. All proceeds will go towards the fund. That event has been organised by the past and present pupils of Glenamoy Naionra.

Other events being discussed include a trad music event in Virginia and an auction to include signed sport jerseys.

Catriona says Mags needs the procedure urgently.

“She’s crippled with pain constantly. We have seen strangers donate who resonated with her story,” she told the Celt.

Catriona credits Carmel Smith who “took the bull by the horns” with leading the charge for Mags.

“She gathered a group of us in Lavey and said ‘something has to be done’ and we got started!”

Despite enduring multiple surgeries, Mags’ condition has deteriorated, and her pain worsened. While her struggle began two decades ago, the exact diagnosis was only confirmed a few years back.

Margaret needs crutches to mobilise, and is bed bound for most of the day. She needs assistance with day-to-day tasks such as cooking and normal activities such as walking can result in extreme pain.

Originally from Glenamoy in Co Mayo, Mags has made Cavan her home since she met her husband Kevin while working in New York City in the 1990s.

The couple have three daughters. Mags’ daughter, Rhiannon, also spoke on ‘Radio Midwest’ about her mother’s condition and her hopes for the future.

As well as taking care of her family, Margaret also worked as a Special Needs Assistant in her local primary school. She is an active member of the local community and known for her continuous support of her home local GAA team in Mayo - CLG Chill Chomáin.

The fundraising group would also like to thank everyone for their generous donations to date.

“She’s a lovely woman and they’re a lovely family, everyone has been so generous already, thank you everyone for the support even sharing it makes a difference.”

To donate, click here.