Strange Boat - Organ Donation Awareness


2011 Service of Remembrance

"This is not a gathering of the famous; it is a gathering of the good.  It is not a gathering of the glamorous, but it is a gathering of the generous" - Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin speaking at the 25th Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving held in Dublin in November 2010.  Archbishop Martin also attend this year's Service which took place on October 8th at Corpus Christi Church, Dublin.

This annual event, organised by the Irish Kidney Association, is attended by the families or organ donors, transplant recipients, patients, carers and the medical profession involved in organ transplantation. The symbolic service is a mixture of sadness and joy for the families of organ donors and transplant recipients who attend.  

For many Donor families this Service has become an anniversary to both remember their loved ones and, for transplant recipients, to honour and give thanks for the wonderful ‘gift of life’ they have received. Some very symbolic and poignant parts of the Service include processions involving two organ donor family representatives, as well as organ transplant recipients.   The ‘donor card’ was also carried to the altar together with the ‘forget me not flower’, which represents the symbol of transplantation.

All present were then invited to place their lighted candle in front of the altar in the annual "Service of Light".

After the Service, the Book of Remembrance which is dedicated with respect and humility to the very special people who have donated their organs so that others may live, was available for the benefit of the donor families.



Annual Service 2010

The 25th Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving took take place at Corpus Christi Church, Home Farm Road in Dublin and was attended by the President, Mary McAleese, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin and a congregation of over 2,000 people from all over Ireland.

To honour organ donors and their families, this landmark and poignant event is coordinated annually by the Irish Kidney Association, and last year's also marked the 25th anniversary of the production of the Book of Remembrance which contains the ‘Roll of Honour’ for organ and tissue donors and has been an integral part of the Service since its inception.

The congregation also participated in a moving and symbolic ‘Ceremony of Light’, remembering those who have died. Following the Service, Donor Families had the opportunity to view their family’s entry in the Book of Remembrance.

President Mary McAleese, who is Patron of the Irish Kidney Association, did the first Reading.  The President kindly attended the Service eleven years ago when it was held in St. Mary’s Church, Haddington Road, Dublin 4.  The inaugural Service in 1986 had an attendance of 300 people.  However, since then the numbers have increased annually, and this year approx. 2,000 people were in attendance.

president and bishop

President, Mary McAleese and Archbhishop Diarmuiud Martin with identical twins Jillian (left) and Valerie O'Connell from Stillorgan who attended the service in thanksgiving for the success of Valerie's living kidney transplant to Jillian.

The principal Celebrant at last year’s Christian Service was Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who was joined by Priests and Ministers from other churches. The congregation also included leading members of the medical and nursing profession and transplant coordinators. Among the readers at the Service was Mr David Hickey, Renal and Pancreatic Transplant Surgeon who is Director of Transplantation, Beaumont Hospital and Phyllis Cunningham, Senior National Transplant Coordinator, Beaumont Hospital.  The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Gerry Breen was also in attendance.

Transplant Team Ireland who, in August 2010, participated in the 6th European Transplant & Dialysis Games, which took place in Dublin, took part in a procession during the Service. One of the team members included John Moran (Dublin) who is celebrating 25 years since receiving his kidney transplant. He was a medal winner in the 1987 World Transplant Games in Innsbruck and again this year, when he scooped 5 gold medals at the European Games in Dublin. The team's procession was led by Tony Gavigan, a transplant recipient whose son's organs were donated after his tragic death.

tony gavigan

The choir which took part in the Service, in 2010, was “Aspiro Choir” from Carlow under the renowned Artistic Director, Mary Amond O’Brien.  The IKA Liturgy Committee was: Vera Frisby, Chairman, (Waterford) Ellen Flanagan (Kerry), Angela McKinney (Sligo), Peggy Eustace (Clare) and Lorraine Costello (Dublin).

The Irish Kidney Association was only seven years old when National Administrator, Patricia Doherty along with Lorraine Costello, the Patient Support Officer was responsible for the inauguration of the Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving and the Book of Remembrance.  As the attendance increased, each year, the Service outgrew St Mary’s and in 2001, the location was moved to Corpus Christi Church in Drumcondra, Dublin 9.

To read the full text of the Archbishop's homily log onto:

Mr. Justic Geoghegan (left), Consultant Liver Transplant Surgeon HBP, St. Vincent's Hospital with liver transplant recipient, Mike Keohane from Co. Cork.


Mr. David Hickey, Director of Transplantation, Beaumont Hospital with kidney transplant recipient, Lena Devine and her father Jody, from Co. Meath.

dave hickey

 Phyllis Cunningham (right) Senior Transplant Coordinator, Beaumont Hospital with Joan Gumbleton from Australia.  Joan's son David who lived and worked in Ireland, became an organ donor in 2004 and Joan travelled to Ireland with eight members of her family to attend the Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving.

The family of David Gumbleton who travelled from Australia for the Service with David's partner, Aoife Fitzsimons (right) and their daughter, Iseult


Included in the package distributed to those in attendance at the Service was a leaflet giving details about the proposed Garden of Commemoration and Thanksgiving, "Circle of Life" which Strange Boat Donor Foundation is planning to set up in Salthill, in Galway. More details on this garden in the News & Events Pages of this website
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