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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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O’Connor’s 24-hour shear-a-thon to raise funds for sister’s cancer treatment

James O’Connor, Cloghane, Co Kerry, is set to take on a 24-hour shear-a-thon next week to raise funds for his sister’s cancer treatment.

In 2022, Mary Lynch (43), a married mother of two young children, Pádraig (7) and Éadaoin (3), was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer – Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) – triple-negative breast cancer.

Her battle to date has included 20 weeks of chemo, followed by a mastectomy and lymph node axillary clearance.

Mary then continued her treatment with radiotherapy for three weeks, but unfortunately, despite all this and following a scan, she was told that the cancer had metastasised to her lung.

She was given a life expectancy of two years, with the only treatment option offered being to try to contain the cancer for as long as possible.

Mary Lynch

She has travelled from her home soil in Ireland to the Royal Marsden in London and has had a “positive” meeting with its team of medics.

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They are now looking into different treatment options, but this will come with notable costs, from the treatment itself, tests, and all other associated costs with travelling overseas.

Mary has undergone dendritic cell therapy in Germany and is currently undergoing further treatment in Ireland of Pembro (immuno-therapy) and Chemotherapy.

James is undergoing this personal challenge to raise money for his sister and to show his and the family’s appreciation for everyone who has donated through a Go FundMe page, Mary’s Cancer Treatment Fund, which has raised over €85,000 so far.

James, a West Kerry native, told That’s Farming: “This fundraiser is being organised in support of a treatment fund set up to allow Mary to receive much-needed treatment and give her as much time as possible to enjoy her beautiful life with her adored children, Pádraig and Éadaoin, and her husband and best friend, Donal.”

“My sister was diagnosed with triple Negative Breast Cancer in 2022 but was given a terminal diagnosis in May of this year.”

“We are just trying to extend her life as much as we can and keep her in her children’s lives for as long as possible, so that they have a mother to grow up with.”

Sheep shearing

James began his sheep shearing career two decades ago, and this has become a full-time commitment for the last twelve years.

He previously completed a stint in Winton in the South Island of New Zealand shearing, and travels to all corners of Ireland.

He explained: “I have spent the last number of weeks in the Midlands shearing, so I am now back at home, starting to shear sheep around Kerry.”

“During all my time shearing, I have never taken on a 24-hour shear-a-thon, but I have organised events in the past for charity, including in memory of a friend.”

“To prepare, I have put a couple of months of training into this, from going to the gym to cycling and swimming to prepare.”

“I am going to start at 6 pm on Friday, July 7th, 2023, and finish at 6 pm on Saturday, July 8th, 2023.”

“I am going to do two hours shearing and take a half-an-hour break, so that is the way it will run consistently for 24 hours.”

“Furthermore, I would be hoping to shear somewhere in the region of 700+, but it is difficult to know what sort of numbers you are going to do until you get going on the day,” he added.


The fundraising event will take place in O’Connor’s Bar and Guesthouse (Eircode – V92PV48), and on the campsite, two marquees will be erected, where the shear-a-thon will take place.

Along with the shear-a-thon, there will be live music, family entertainment, a BBQ, a children’s corner, a raffle, and an auction – all welcome to attend.


To support Mary’s Cancer Treatment Fund, click this link.

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