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‘An immense legacy, an extraordinary friend’: Vicky Phelan portrait campaign and tour visits UL



Vicky Phelan portrait campaign and tour visits UL. Pictured (left) are David Brennan, portrait owner and friend of Vicky with Vicky’s mother Gaby Kelly and son Darragh Phelan. Picture: Alan Place. Pictured (right) Vicky Phelan

The extraordinary courage, empathy, compassion, humour and campaigning spirit of Vicky Phelan were remembered at the portrait campaign in UL

The extraordinary courage, empathy, compassion, humour and campaigning spirit of Vicky Phelan were remembered at the portrait campaign in UL
Pictured during The Vicky Phelan portrait campaign and tour were, back l-r, Sarah Nally, Cancer Survivor, Caoimhe O’Neill-Forde, 221+ Support Group, David Brennan, portrait owner and friend of Vicky, Darragh Phelan, Vicky’s son, Mary Fitzpatrick, Friend, John Wall, Friend and Cancer Advocate, front l-r, Vicky’s husband Jim Phelan, mother Gaby Kelly and father John Kelly. Picture: Alan Place

The Vicky Phelan portrait campaign and tour event took place at UL, where Vicky was a graduate, a former member of staff and an honorary doctorate recipient.

The portrait, depicting the story of Vicky’s life in three panels by artist Vincent Devine, was displayed by David Brennan, portrait owner and friend of Vicky.

David, supported by Vicky’s family and friends, has continued to campaign in her memory, using the portrait to tell her story and continue her legacy,




Vicky’s parents John and Gaby, husband Jim and son Darragh were among her family members in attendance, as well as a host of friends and former colleagues. Darragh was able to get a close-up view of the portrait in person for the first time.

Vicky’s friend John Wall remembered an “immense legacy that she has left that is never ending”.

“She shaped the world that we lived in single handedly – it is a phenomenal legacy that is still benefiting us and others. She was an extraordinary friend and it was a privilege to have known her,” he said.

David Brennan, who is from Mooncoin and was a lifelong friend and neighbour of Vicky’s family growing up, bought the painting when it was auctioned after being unveiled by her on the Late Late Show, remembered her as a “big sister”.

“When the portrait was unveiled, we knew we had to buy it so it was back in Mooncoin, we knew there was something greater we could do with this,” he explained.

“We had a vision for it, to take it on tour and carry her torch, to tell her story and influence people to look after themselves. We have been touring the country ever since, bringing her campaign for awareness and change,” he added.

The event also featured speakers guest speakers such as cancer patient advocate Sarah Nally, while a panel discussion also took place featuring Liz Yeates, Marie Keating Foundation, Cian O’Carroll, solicitor and Caoimhe O’Neill-Forde, 221+ Support Group was moderated by Tammy Darcy, CEO of The Shona Project.

UL President Professor Kerstin Mey, who addressed the large gathering, said: “A fighter and activist, Vicky Phelan was so much to so many.

“At UL, she was a graduate, a teaching and professional colleague, and a recipient of this institution’s highest award when she received her honorary doctorate the same year she began her public fight for survival and for the women of Ireland.

“That relentless campaigning, offering clarity, and highlighting what many might shy from is an exemplar of how she changed the lives of so many. For that, she has the admiration of a nation and the thanks of many who she never met. It is public service at its highest.

“Today, it is Vicky’s legacy that carries her torch, and we remember the major impact she had on people’s lives during a most difficult and precious time in her own life.

“We remember that through her courage, commitment and exceptional communication skills, she was at the forefront in the pursuit of significant change and improvements in the Irish healthcare system.

“Vicky remains an inspiration to all UL students, to our staff and to our community and she brought great honour to the University, and it is our honour to have her remembered her today just a short time after her first anniversary.

“It is a credit to those behind the Vicky Phelan portrait campaign and tour that you are continuing Vicky’s legacy and telling her story through this painting, which is vivid way of illustrating her incredible bravery.”

Find out more here.
Read more Vicky Phelan stories here.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.