The Irish dream-team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have now presided over two friendly matches, and the country is once again tentatively optimistic about Irish soccer. We asked the people of Dublin what they thought:
How do you think Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will do? Let us know in the comments.
A three-time transplant recipient, multiple World Transplant Games medal-winner and 13-time foster parent (along with five children of her own), she is the epitome of both resilience and humility in equal measure.
‘After my first operation one of the transplant coordinators asked me would I be interested in taking part in the World Transplant Games. At first I thought “Is she mad?”, but two years down the road when I was fit enough I decided to go to the 1995 Games in Manchester,’ says Anne, as she sips a mid-afternoon tea while looking after grandson Daly (she never was one to refuse a helping hand).
Working as a member of the household staff in Beaumount Hospital, Anne had been required to take a series of Hepatitis B injections as a precautionary measure. After reacting badly to the vaccinations she underwent a number of tests which eventually revealed underlying auto-immune disease that she was suffering from.
An internal bleed caused by a routine biopsy meant that she was kept in hospital for six months, and eventually necessitated her going under the knife for a liver transplant in St. Vincent’s Hospital in 1993. However, just two years later she had recovered sufficiently to take part in both the badminton and 3K walk competitions at the Games.
‘Just before they started, I was meant to come in to hospital for a biopsy on the Friday and leave the next day, but the doctor came into me on Saturday and told me I was very ill,’ says Anne. ‘As it transpired I was suffering from chronic liver rejection at the time, although it hadn’t been diagnosed. I told him that the Games weren’t just a little holiday for me, they meant a lot in my life.’
Little did the medical staff of St. Vincent’s know, Anne had decided to dedicate any medals she would win to the memory of her donor (a young man, as it turned out) and his family. As she sees it, her gold medal in the badminton and bronze in the walking race were in recognition of their sacrifice.
‘I was conflicted about knowing that for me to live and have my transplant, someone was going to have to die,’ says an emotional Anne, a tear coming to her eye. ’I really had a terrible time dealing with that aspect of it. In the end I thought “if they were special enough to give up their organs, well who was I to refuse them”.’
‘A couple of years after my first transplant I went off to Disneyland, and I went on every ride in the place- for my donor, not me. They would’ve only been 18 or 19 at the time. I also had the intention of giving the world medals I’d won to the family. Even to this day I feel an incredible sense of gratitude towards them.’
Having fought long and hard to recover a normal existence, Anne was told in 2002 that she’d need another liver transplant, along with a new kidney. That year she became part of a select group of people to have two transplants in the one day.
‘I was devastated when I found out I had to have another transplant. The second time was an easier operation for me, but a harder road back. They let me out for Christmas but I got total kidney failure and was on a life support machine for a couple of weeks after. I had to learn to walk all over again.’
Truly a woman of the world, Anne’s enduring positivity knows no bounds. Before her transplant ordeals, she had dedicated a large part of her life to foster 13 new born babies in four years.
‘We started fostering new babies coming out of the hospital from two days. We had them for anything up to two months, and even had one until 10 months. I felt that they deserved a good start in life the same as my own children got.
‘I was just delighted that they could get love and affection from a foster family, which I personally felt was the best thing.’
Whereas others would rue the hand life had dealt them having contributed so much good to society, Anne has no such feelings of lament.
‘I was never bitter over what happened to me. I never said “why me” or anything like that, it wasn’t something you could just give back as such so I just had to get on with it and try and make the most of things. I have a lovely family and a brilliant husband and I’ve had a great life so far, I really couldn’t ask for any more.’
From Irish dancer, to aspiring femaile bodybuilder, 21-year-old Dervla Kilmartin from Sligo has always been a fitness fanatic.
She spent her youth juggling every sport under the sun and took a keen interest in dancing and track and field.
She was so dedicated to her sport she competed in the All-Ireland track and field, just three days before sitting her Leaving Certificate.
Despite a routine jam-packed with activities, the young athlete’s education did not suffer and Kilmartin decided to amalgamate her love of sport and education and went on to study Sport and Exercise Science in University of Limerick.
She enjoyed the Fresher fun of college but soon after, decided she wanted to do something more serious.
“I always wanted to have an athletic physique to match my sporting background, and even more so now having to work with professional athletes and to be taken seriously as a woman in this industry,” explained the keen sportswoman.
Kilmartin’s boyfriend, also a bodybuilder, introduced the gym junkie to the world of bodybuilding. While attending one of his shows, her attention was grabbed by the body fitness/figure category of women and the obsession began.
As part of her college course, she obtained a six month placement in NSW Institute of Sport in Sydnesy, Australia. It was here her love for body fitness blossomed. She admits, like any other profession, first impressions are important, especially in the fitness world.
“Let’s be honest,” she says, “image is an important factor. I wanted to feel and look strong to feel more confident in the career I wanted.”
Training began regularly while studying in Sydney. She gained valuable knowledge and training tips from various strengthening coaches and nutritionists around her. It was here Kilmartin met Jaslyn Hewitt and Kat Millar, fellow female bodybuilders, who were always on hand with tips and advice.
What others may consider torture, Kilmartin thrived in: “There were days I cried during the training I was pushed so hard. I loved it!”
The women Kilmartin has trained with she would consider real, honest athletes. Recently, bodybuilding has become somewhat of a fad in the media with the emergence of glamour model Jodie Marsh entering into the body fitness world.
For Kilmartin, she sees Marsh as “an insult more than anything to bodybuilding”.
“Jodie gained fame from training for only few weeks compared to the athletes in this industry who train for years and years to improve their physique constantly.”
Now training up six times a week and concentrating vividly on a healthy diet, it is a wonder how a normal lifestyle can be led.
“Obviously there does come sacrifices,” admits Kilmartin. “I would say my social life has suffered a little bit the fact I don’t go out much anymore, but that’s not the life I want to live”.
Living an Irish student life and obtaining her level of commitment are certainly two clashing lifestyles. “I have gone out partying with my friends many times sober now over the past year and a bit and I have had great fun. You have to enjoy the process too and live a balanced life.”
While Kilmartin has received nothing but support and encouragement from family and friends, it has not all been friendly feedback for her. “I got a lot of negativity from boys about my pictures. Many insulted me and mocked my pictures or statuses”.
“Women used to think I was going for the “bodybuilder” look and thought it was disgusting and I would be a tank and become huge”.
As Kilmartin’s training has progressed she says now “I do get a lot of positive comments now from both males and females as they can see it’s not a fad and it’s a lifestyle for me and my commitment and dedication shines through.”
“From skinny/fat to strong is a healthy approach with many benefits and I would choose this look any day. Plus I get to eat extra food to feed my muscles and the feeling after a good workout is extremely satisfying and you learn so much about yourself psychologically and physically.”
Kilmartin ends on a positive note, something we could all live by: “You are only young once, so make the most of it by living a healthy active life.”