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Kerry pub Mr Brightside tribute: Widow of Ger Foley on the importance of organ donation - 'We were lucky to have been given those extra 13 years'

By Marisa Reidy and staff reporters

Published 01/04/2016

The widow of a Kerryman Ger Foley, who was the focus of a now viral tribute in his local pub last week, has said she hopes the unprecedented attention the video has received can be used to highlight the importance of organ donation.

Gráinne O'Sullivan lost her husband Ger Foley to Cystic Fibrosis last week - and within days his friend Brian O'Sullivan's musical tribute atop the bar counter of Falvey's Bar became an internet sensation.

Ger Foley, his wife Grainne and children Peter and Isobel
Ger Foley, his wife Grainne and children Peter and Isobel

Brian decided to pay tribute to his friend with a rousing rendition of The Killer's Mr Brightside and within days of it being posted online, it had received over one million views.

The US songwriters took to Twitter to congratulate Brian on his tribute to Ger, known as 'Farmer'.

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The Killers respond after Kerry pub man sings 'Mr Brightside' in moving tribute to late friend

This week, Ger's wife Gráinne said that while she was gobsmacked at the attention the video - and indeed unassuming Brian - had received, she said it would be fantastic if it could be used to highlight organ donation.

Gráinne explained that Ger - who was a cousin of renowned CF campaigner Billy Burke - received a double lung transplant in 2003 which transformed his life and that it was while waiting for a kidney transplant that he eventually lost his fight.

"The word transformation doesn't even come close to what that transplant did for Ger and our family," she told The Kerryman. "We had Isobel and Peter, we travelled to Australia and all over Europe. I couldn't even begin to describe the difference it made -100 per cent.

"I spoke at Ger's funeral about how lucky we were to have been given those extra 13 years and when I saw the video I couldn't help think how, under other circumstances, he'd have been in the midst of it all."

Gráinne said that organ donation allowed Ger to leave an amazing legacy - his two children - and she encouraged everyone to carry a donor card to allow other families experience the amazing years they did.

Brian, meanwhile, has said that while he is shocked at the attention, he too will use it to echo Grainne's message.

Speaking to Anton Savage on Today FM earlier in the week, Mr O'Sullivan said that while there's a fun side to the video, it's also important to remember that friends and family in Killorglin are grieving.

Brian O'Sullivan and locals in Falveys Bar, Killorglin, Kerry, in the Republic of Ireland paid tribute to Ger Foley on the night of his funeral
Brian O'Sullivan and locals in Falveys Bar, Killorglin, Kerry, in the Republic of Ireland paid tribute to Ger Foley on the night of his funeral

He chose to sing Mr Brightside in tribute to Ger, who was just 45 when he died, as it is a song everyone sings in Falveys bar on New Year's Eve and many musicians and singers had been paying musical tributes.

"There were beautiful singers there all night, an explosion of life and the songs he would have loved growing up so I thought Mr Brightside would be a great tribute to him," said Mr O'Sullivan.

"Obviously I didn't think anything like [the video going viral] would happen.  Obviously there's a load of grieving people down here, there's the fun side of it, but also the serious side.

"There's a serious amount of people grieving down here, family and friends, it's an emotional ride.  Ger would have loved the exposure his passing would have got because he loved rock and roll."

Brian revealed that Ger had lived with Cystic Fibrosis and received a double lung transplant in 2003.  He went on to have two children, Isabel and Peter, with his wife Grainne.

"When I stood up on that bar I wasn't standing up for people in America or Australia or in the world, I was standing up for Farmer.  That was my tribute to him.  Going global is fantastic but it's about Ger and CF and not Brian O'Sullivan," said Brian.

The Kerryman became very emotional as he pleaded with the public to carry donor cards.

"[Ger] died of CF and I would like everybody to get it into their heads about getting a donor card," he said.

"Without Ger getting a transplant back in 2003, a double lung transplant, there would be no Isabel and Peter.  That's his legacy and getting that into people's heads - people can save lives by running into a building or whatever but people can save people's lives by just carrying a donor card.

"That's so important.  Ger's legacy lives on because of a donor card."

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