Caring for Special Babies & Children/Adults
Support Organisation for Trisomy 13/18 - (Patau's/Edward's Syndrome)



Dunderry Coffee Morning

Dunderry Coffee Morning

Coffee Morning Dunderry

Dunderry Coffee Morning

Annual  Coffee Morning Dunderry Co. Meath took place before Christmas.

“After our annual festive coffee morning, we’re in a position to donate €1,000 to SOFT.  We transferred the few bob the other day. Here are our daughters Alice and Annie with the presentation cheque.”

It was a very busy day with a steady flow of people from the surrounding area.

There was plenty of mulled wine, mince pies, and all festive fare with home produce.

Many Thanks to Jackie and Ian O’Brien who were the hosts for this event,

 “The coffee morning was in memory of our dearest sister Dolly and Dad Derry, whom we all miss very much.”

“Everyone had a great day and it was great to see a multitude of our family and friends.

“Thanks to SOFT Ireland for all their support over the years and also for their continued support. It is great to be able to help and support SOFT in any way we can”


Denise and Derry

Derry and Denise

Derry O’Brien 10th Anniversary


Derry O'Brien 11 December 2013

Derry O’Brien 11 December 2013

Derry O Brien an Appreciation.

Dunderry Drumbeat

December 2013

Dermot William O Brien,for this I believe was his birth name ,was one sound man.And I will tell you why.

First he and his wife Mary (Newman )had three children ,one sounder than the other.Ian and Eunice we all know,love and respect,but there is another who Derry is now hugging and cajoling in the Place where no pain exists and where the other Angels worship the Lord.

Denise (pet name Dolly ) was born with a cndition I cannot currently spell,which involved irreparable brain damage and massive physical disability and of which most sufferers die fairly promptly.

Yet the loving and incessant care lavished on their treasure by Derry,Mary,Ian ,Eunice the Newman family and neighbours resulted in her reaching her teens before she succumbed.A world record in compassion I believe.

They say that the most distressing pain a parent can suffer is the loss of a child.Derry and Mary suffered this pain.And never flinched nor sought sympathy.Ian nd Eunice suffered the loss of a sibling and it is perhaps no coincidence that Eunice chose nursing as a profession.

I have often wondered how Derry and Mary felt when they heard the womb raiders screeching for the murder of perfectly healthy preborn children as a right and have no doubt but that Derry and Mary have more decency in a discarded fingernail than the totality of these child killers.

Secondly Derry had to make a living all during his married life and help support his family .This he also did as well as shouldering the responsibility of massive shared care for Dolly.And he must have done it well because hundreds of his former colleagues in the old Dept,of Posts and Telegraphs formed a huge guard of honour at his packed funeral in Dunderry last Monday.

Thirdly he himself suffered in silence and with dignity for a good while prior to his death and he  disguised it well.You would never think when you saw him picking up the grand kids at school that he was as sick as he transpired to be.Even towards the end he was the youngest and freshest 66year old I ever saw.

On a personal level I chose a different sporting path than Derry.I am a GAA man through and through.Derry was a soccer man and a referee of distinction I am told.I did see a few Soccer Blazers at the funeral.

His mother is a Heerey ,a most diverse and Sporting family.Two at least of his uncles played foot ball with Dunderry in the forties and fifties.Others were All Ireland champions in cycling,running and golf I understand.

In fact when I was in Navan Hospital as a result of a stroke four years ago an uncle of his was in the same ward as myself.He was a good conversationalist and as modest as be damn about the sporting achievements of his lifetime but he was sicker than I thought and died a short time afterwards.

Derry’s mother 95 years old attended his funeral , a mother burying a child who himself had buried a child.A most distressing occasion.

To his loving wife Mary,his children and his grandchildren and his siblings all in Dunderry offer their sincerest condolences.

Ar Dheis De go raibh a hanam.




The death has occurred of

Derry O’Brien Meadstown, Dunderry, Meath

Date of Death: Wednesday 11th December 2013

Following a long illness bravely borne in the loving care of his family and the staff of St. James’ Hospital, Dublin. Predeceased by his special little darling daughter Denise (Dolly) & his father Billy. Sadly missed by his loving wife Mary, son Ian, daughter Eunice, daughter-in-law Jackie, son-in-law Mark, his mother Rita, brothers Colm, Leo & John, grandchildren Jack, Conor, Evan, Isabel & Alice, brothers & sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, relatives & a large circle of friends.


Meath Chronicle

Obituaries 7th June 2014

Derry O’Brien, Dunderry

Widespread sadness was felt throughout Meath and especially in Dunderry following the passing of Derry O’Brien, Meadstown, aged 65, in St James’ Hospital, Dublin, on 11th December last. A native of Navan, Derry moved to Dunderry in 1972 following his marriage to Mary Newman, and settled there. He was predeceased by his father, Billy and his very special daughter, Denise, age 21 in 2008. Along with his wife Mary, daughter Eunice and son Ian, he dedicated his life to caring for her with devotion and without any fuss or complaint, giving round the clock care and attention to her. The family chain was broken as was Derry’s heart forever when she passed away. However, there is some consolation for his family in knowing they are together again.

Derry bore his long illness with great courage, humour and dignity, never complaining and actually tricked most people into thinking he was well, when in actual fact he was far from being well. ‘I’m grand,’ he told everyone, but Mary knew that sadly that was not the case. Having being diagnosed in 2004 with a plastic anemia, a quite rare blood disorder where the body breaks down and fails to produce new bone marrow.


This proved difficult to treat but he was cared for by Prof S McCann, Dr Catherine and their large team both in Burkitt Unit and the Haematology Units in St James’ Hospital, Dublin. While in their care, Derry became part of this big family and being a larger than life person with great wit, charm and good humour used his many hospital stays and subsequently twice weekly visits for treatment and transfusions in the Day Ward with a party atmosphere, having the craic with the nurses, patients and staff and actually became good friends with them and patients from around the country. Being an eternal optimist, he was hoping to get on a trial drug programme or treatment plan but sadly it was not to be.

In his youth, Derry played Gaelic football with Simonstown Gaels, hurling with Navan O’Mahonys and soccer with Robinstown and Dunderry. After retiring from playing, Derry became a referee and then one of the founder members of Meath Branch of the Irish Soccer Referees Society in 1986 and continued as an accomplished referee at many levels having a zero tolerance policy which he certainly practised until he retired 25 years later. He loved what he did and loved life and that included his work in Eircom from which he took early retirement following his daughter’s death.

Derry loved and lived for his family and was a devoted husband, father, son and besotted grandfather. He enjoyed great times with his grandchildren and loved taking them to Ardsallagh at every available opportunity and visited his mother every night.

Derry’s life touched so many people and he made an everlasting impression on all those lucky enough to have known him especially through the family’s association with SOFT Ireland, a registered charity and support organisation for families of children born with Edwards and Pataus Syndrome.

He worked hard to help at the many fundraising coffee days, head shaves and cycles for the association and was an active Social Welfare officer for them for years. He was generous with his time and kindness and he had a wonderful warm personality. Derry welcomed everyone who called to his home and made them feel at home and comfortable.

His death has left a huge void in his family and in the lives of his friends and those lucky enough to have known him.

Derry lived a full and rewarding good life, always showing generosity and a willingness to help neighbours and friends and gave good advice whenever he could.

Crowds came to his home to say farewell and again large crowds attended his funeral Mass, which was celebrated by Fr Noel Horneck, with sacred music provided by Edel and Ann McKay. On his final journey, friends carried his coffin and his work mates in Eircom, colleagues from Referees Association and Dunderry Fair Day provided guards of honour.

Derry is survived by his wife, Mary; daughter, Eunice; son, Ian; son-in-law, Mark; daughter-in-law, Jackie; mother, Rita: brothers, Leo, Colm and John; sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, cousins aunts, uncles; grandchildren, Jack, Conor, Evan, Isabel and Alice, friends and neighbours.

The funeral took place from the Church of the Assumption, Dunderry, to Dunderry Cemetery.

Denise 02/07/86 – 31/01/08
Edward’s Syndrome

Denise celebrating her 21st birthday

Living with Dolly

At the AGM in Portlaoise, 2003 I spoke of life with my sister Dolly who had Edward’s Syndrome and whose being had changed our lives forever, this is a shortened version of that story………………..

I’ve always loved Christmas, but 1985 was extra special, I was 9 and my sister Eunice was 11. Mam and Dad (Mary and Derry) had a big surprise for us…….We would have a new brother or sister joining the family next July. We were ecstatic.

From the early stages Mam suspected something was wrong and doctors were quick to confirm this. We never thought anything of the very frequent check ups……not that we minded, it meant another trip to Drogheda for us and maybe a trip to Bettystown. On 2nd July 1986 Denise Mary O’ Brien entered the world by Caesarian Section weighing just 4 lbs 5 ounces. We raced round the roads telling everyone about our new sister. After a few days we were allowed to visit this little scrap of life lying in a glass box, with a tube in her nose. So this was her!!…….Then we were told that she was different, she would never walk, go to school……Why????

Whilst walking on the beach Daddy had to be blunt and told us the truth – Denise might not live very long…..She might never see home, Teddy the dog…..we were devastated. After 5 months, Denise or Dolly as she was christened by Uncle Jack was allowed home on 2nd December. Home would never be the same again.

Mam and Dad took turns to sleep on the couch beside Dolly’s cot in case she budged. And she did!!!. Mam and Dad were constantly exhausted. As her first Christmas approached I prayed for God to keep her alive so Santy could come to her at least once. It was a Christmas I still cherish. In February 1987 Dolly got her first bout of pneumonia and was gravely ill for 3 weeks. She was confirmed on admission to Hospital but miraculously survived. Against all the odds Dolly came home again and “normal home life resumed”.

By her first birthday she had bloomed into an adorable living porcelain doll. Her first birthday was a huge celebration. All my friends treated Dolly like a real person and they talked to her as if she could understand them. She made us a very close group of friends. Every time we met they would always ask “how is Dolly?”. Some close family friends firmly believe that Dolly brought the best out in all the lads and kept us out of harm’s way in our teenage years. Dolly’s health was always foremost in our minds. As she grew bigger the main problems were persistent kidney problems etc. She had been in Lourdes three or four times which was wonderful for Mammy and Daddy to visit this special place with their special daughter. The first time to Lourdes was Daddy’s first time to fly. That wouldn’t have happened without Dolly.

One hot summer’s day a friend, Roy, and I landed home for lunch. A woman from Limerick was in Mam’s and she had a child like Dolly but a little older. The likeness was uncanny and I definitely reckon they were communicating through touch and noises. This woman was Kay Fagan with her daughter Elaine. Kay and her husband Michael introduced Mammy and Daddy to S.O.F.T. Ireland. Soon families like the Fagans, Boylans and Matthews and many more became household names. It was fantastic for Mam and Dad. Dolly was my mascot and I carried her holy medals and her picture with me through the hardest days of school and college exams. I often wondered what would she be like as a regular seventeen year old but without Dolly as she was life would never have been the same. I never wished she was a regular teenager despite all her sickness and complications through the years.

When I met Jackie five years ago we found we had a common bond. Both of us had sisters with special needs. Jackie’s sister Olivia has Spina Bifida and is in a wheelchair. From the minute Jackie met Dolly I knew she had accepted her for the little person she was. She had the same caring side to her personality that Dolly had given me, a caring side that can only be fully recognised by a person with the less fortunate sibling. I used to get mad if I saw someone staring at Dolly but I know that some people without the experience of someone with special needs are going to stare and it can actually be quite amusing to see the look on their faces. I was so proud of Dolly. She had to fight for her life and had the heart of a lion. She helped me through last summers’ marathon cycle from Malin head to Mizen head. When every sinew in my body ached she inspired me to fight the pain as she had done so many times.
I feel that Dolly has made saints out of Mammy and Daddy. They have such strength and courage. I am very proud of how my family adopted to life with Dolly. It was an ongoing challenge which I was privileged to be part of. I believe the strength we drew from Dolly will get us through anything that life will throw at us.
Dolly is Dolly, always was, always will be. She has changed our lives for the better.
It is an honour to be her brother.

Dolly celebrated her 21st on 14th July 2007. Celebrations kicked off with a Mass in the home of Mary and Derry O’ Brien. It was celebrated by Fr. Richard Goode and was attended by over 140 people. There was a meal in Dunderry Lodge and it was a fantastic and fitting tribute to such a special lady. The party continued back at the house until the wee small hours of the morning. Jackie and I composed a song for Dolly’s 21st entitled “Dolly”, which was performed during her Mass. This song sums up Dolly’s life and what she meant to us.

Thank you Dolly, you are our queen, our ray of sun scores

Verse 1
Twenty-one years have come to pass,
My doesn’t life go by so fast.
And on the very day that you were born,
We were told you might never see the morn.

Thank you Dolly you are the one,
You are our queen, our ray of sun.
And the love you bestow, you speak with your eyes,
Deeper than the oceans, bluer than the skies.

Verse 2
But the morn did come and many more,
You defied the odds and many so sure.
And now as we celebrate your twenty-first,
We remember the better days not the worst.

Verse 3
And we marvel at your journey through life,
Despite all the hurdles, hardship and strife.
And the virtual mountain everyday that you climb,
Has shown us your courage time after time.

Verse 4
You’ve a heart of gold it’s plain as can be,
And you’re an inspiration for all who see.
You’re one of life’s miracles that is so true,
You’ve enriched all our lives by being you.

Lots of love,
Ian & Jackie

In January 2008 Dolly was admitted to the Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda with a chest infection. Her condition deteriorated over 12 days and she slipped away on Thursday 31 January with Mam and I beside her. It was just so so upsetting to stand and feel the warmth drain from her little body.
Dolly reposed at home for 4 days and the amount of people who called to our house to see her was unreal.
Dolly’s funeral Mass was simply “perfect” if that’s possible. The readings, songs and poems were all specially chosen and written for Dolly. The church was overflowing with well wishers. Dolly even got a “guard of honour “ to her place of rest.
We released two white doves at the graveside and watched them disappear into the great beyond……..I imagined them to be Dolly’s spirit.
“Goodbye Dolly”, I thought and I blew her a kiss. “Safe Journey Home”
Life without Dolly has been very hard. For such a little person to make such an impact on people’s lives it’s unbelievable. People have been fantastic and this has eased the burden. Thanks to one and all, your caring words and kind gestures have not gone unnoticed. We will be forever in your debt.
We miss you so much Dolly and you will be forever in our thoughts.

Ian O’ Brien