Portlaoise rallies around Mick Rigney

OVERWHELMING support was shown for Portlaoise sportsman Mick Rigney recently, when a trio of fundraisers were held for him by his family and friends.

OVERWHELMING support was shown for Portlaoise sportsman Mick Rigney recently, when a trio of fundraisers were held for him by his family and friends.

Enough money has been raised through a sponsored cycle, golf classic and charity auction, to allow Mick’s family purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle for him, and adapt the family home to suit his needs while he continues his recovery.

The eldest of seven Portlaoise brothers, all sporting legends, Mick, 50, suffered a serious stroke last November, that has left him wheelchair bound and undergoing physiotherapy at Portlaoise Hospital. When he recovered enough to return home at weekends recently, his family realised that major adjustments were needed to make everyday life easier, and turned to their friends, colleagues and neighbours for help.

They banded together to form Friends of Mick Rigney, and decided on a sponsored cycle, a golf classic and a fundraising night, all held last month. It was clear to see the high regard Mick and the Rigney family are held in, as hundreds came out in support, from Laois and beyond.

His brother Brian Rigney, a retired Irish international rugby player, was thrilled with the response.

“We were delighted with the result of our fundraising efforts, everything was very well supported, we had 300 cyclists for the cycle, and over two days we had 93 teams in the golf classic. It was a great success. The auction was very successful also with 14 items auctioned off,” he said.

Over 700 people supported the Evening with Mick and Friends, at the Heritage Hotel Portlaoise, on Friday, July 27. Sports commentator and family friend Michael Duignan conducted entertaining onstage interviews with Brian Cody, Mick Galwey, Sean O’Brien and Bernard Brogan. He then performed auctioneer duties, with a blitz of sporting memorabilia to get bidders going.

Particular interest was shown in a pair of signed Katie Taylor boxing gloves and a New Zealand All Blacks centenary season jersey, which Brian wore while playing against the All Blacks.

One overseen auction item is a private tour of Coolmore Stud, with lunch for four, on which silent bidding closes today (Wednesday) through the website friendsofmickrigney.ie

Brian thanked the people of Portlaoise and Laois for coming out in support of Mick and his family.

“Mick will now get a wheelchair accessible car and we will be able to complete necessary work on his family home, and be in a position to support Micks recovery going forward,” he said.

He reports that doing well with his ongoing recovery.

“Mick is in good form now and we are looking forward to helping with his recovery. We would also like to again thank people for their very generous support,” he said.

Mick’s friend and fellow rugby player Declan Kelly said he was delighted with the support shown.

“We got a huge crowd, we were extremely happy, but in a way we expected it, The community of Portlaoise are fantastic. Mick is a popular fella, and if the roles were reversed, he’d be the first to help out,” he said.

Full results of the Golf Classic are on Friendsofmickrigney.ie.