Mother and daughter in NYC marathon to aid hospital

When mother and daughter Roseleen and Sonia McShane of Burtonport visit New York City for the first time later this year, they will see the place in a way that not every visitor does.

When mother and daughter Roseleen and Sonia McShane of Burtonport visit New York City for the first time later this year, they will see the place in a way that not every visitor does.

Roseleen and Sonia are heading to New York to walk the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 6, in a fund-raising effort for the Friends of Letterkenny General Hospital.

The route of the famous marathon stretches 26 miles, passing through all five of New York City’s boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island.

Think of it this way: “It’s from here to Ardara, if you walked,” Roseleen said, speaking from the sitting room of her Burtonport home.

A group of up to 10 people are expected to enter this year’s marathon in New York to raise money for Friends of Letterkenny General, including mother and son Cathy and David Harvey, who live in the Letterkenny area.

Roseleen became interested in the project when she saw an advertisement that the Friends of Letterkenny General Hospital placed in local media, looking for people to take part. When she mentioned it to the family, Sonia agreed to join her. Roseleen has three daughters, a son and two grandchildren.

Sonia said she decided to take part in the marathon to support her mother, but added, “I might be the first to collapse.”

Proceeds from the effort will benefit the Friends of Letterkenny General Hospital 2008-2011 fund-raising campaign, which has been raising money to provide an angiography suite at the hospital.

Roseleen has been involved in big fund-raisers before. Her husband, Michael, held a fund-raising party for his 50th birthday in March of 2007 to benefit the Friends of Alan Doherty. That charity raised money to secure surgery for the young Letterkenny man who was born without a chin.

In June of that same year, Michael was diagnosed with a brain tumor and told that he had 18 months to live. The couple decided to hold a fund-raising dance to mark their 30th wedding anniversary on March 28 of 2009, to raise money for Friends of Letterkenny General.

Michael died on Feb. 25 of 2009, just weeks before the fund-raising dance was due to be held, but the family decided to go ahead with the plans. Proceeds went to the Friends of Letterkenny General and Donegal Hospice home care, and to create a public garden in Michael’s memory. The garden is now in place, near the hospital’s oncology ward.

“Michael would have always been very involved in charity,” Roseleen said.

The mother and daughter are brainstorming to come up with ideas for events to raise money between now and November.

“We’re hoping to get a few events over the next few weeks,” Sonia said. They are considering organising a series of speciality hampers for a raffle, as well as holding a ceili and a fashion show. But they are also open to ideas from other people.

“Anybody out there who has any ideas or can give us any helping hand would be very much appreciated,” Roseleen said.

They also appreciate that these are difficult times for many people.

“We very much understand the economic climate and recession is a factor,” Roseleen said.

“Small donations help. Everything helps,” said Sonia. “Every wee bit that anyone gives at all will help.”

The women will soon begin training. Sonia said participants are allowed to take up to eight hours to complete the course and added that she planned to finish the course in “7.59.” Then she laughed.

“We have no expectations,” Sonia said. “It’s an achievement any way you look at it.”

Roseleen comes from an island background, with her mother from Arranmore Island and her father from Iniscaorach. The New York City marathon includes several bridges, as runners and walkers progress from one of the city’s islands to another.

“I hope all these islands will help me when I go to New York,” she said.

Anyone who wishes to get in contact with Roseleen or Sonia with fund-raising ideas or any other assistance -- “They would be greatly appreciated,” Roseleen said -- can contact them by phone at 0872456257 or by email at

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