London’s Donegal diaspora rallies

Londons Donegal diaspora rallies Buncrana man battling cancer
photo by Brendan Vaughan

Twenty-five year old Thomas McGowan came to London three years ago

London’s Donegal community has helped to raise more than £35,000 for a Inishowen man diagnosed with a brain tumour. Thomas McGowan, 25, from Buncrana is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment following surgery.

Thomas, who emigrated to London three years ago, was employed by Gerard Mc-Daid, from Aghilly, owner of A1 Concrete and Pumping Limited. Gerard and his wife Tracey co-organised a recent fundraiser to support Thomas, his partner, Aideen McEleney, who comes from Clonmany, and their one-year-old twins, Aoife and Daithaí.

A Night at the Races held at Thomas’ local, The Office Pub in Northolt, on March 10, which raised nearly £10,000 alone. A GoFundMe page has been set up and at the time of going to press has raised almost £35,000 in less than a month. Far exceeding the initial target of £5,000.


“Myself and Aideen would like to say thank you to everybody for all your support through my journey and thank you too everybody who donated,” said Thomas. “We are so, so grateful to each and every one of you. And again a special thank you to Gerry and Tracy McDaid for your ongoing support and help. Thank you to Paddy as well for hosting the amazing night it was brilliant.”

Tracey said the support and generosity the family has received from London’s Donegal community, and the Irish community at large both in Britain and in Ireland, has been ‘unreal’.

Londons Donegal diaspora rallies Buncrana man battling cancer
Aideen McEleney, one-year-old twins, Aoife and Daithaí and Thomas

“We are so, so grateful to all of the individuals and businesses who have donated so generously for Thomas, Aideen and their twins,” Tracey told the Irish Times.


She added: “I really have to thank the Donegal Association in London, especially Paul O’Donnell. When Paul heard about our fundraising for Thomas, he phoned Gerard and asked if he could share it on the Donegal Association Facebook Page.

“Well, after that the whole thing just went absolutely ballistic. The support we received from the London Irish community was unbelievable, unreal, fantastic. I can’t describe it. I am just so grateful.”

Thomas started suffering severe headaches in January. “He said to Gerard one morning, ‘I can’t drive the lorry today, my head is too sore.’ Thomas had mentioned having headaches to Gerard before Christmas, so Gerard sent him to the doctor immediately,” said Tracey.

A scan and a MRI revealed a brain tumour and Thomas was admitted to hospital to have the tumour removed. He underwent surgery on January 31. Further tests confirmed that the tumour was cancerous and that chemotherapy and radiation treatment would be required, leaving Thomas unable to currently work.

She added: “Luckily for Thomas, the tumour was easily accessible and his medical team was quite confident they could remove all of it. “He had to have two further surgeries to have a drain put in to drain the fluid from his brain. His last surgery involved the removal of a piece of his skull and spine. Thomas was then placed in an induced coma,” said Tracey.

Thomas was discharged from hospital on February 14 – the twins’ first birthday – and is now working towards making a full recovering.

She said: “He was very determined to do all of the physiotherapy asked of him and he came on in leaps and bounds.

“Aideen and Thomas have really been through the mill this year. Aoife and Daithaí were premature and spent their first six to eight weeks in hospital.”

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