24 Jan 2022

Donegal family helps Una Healy launch Ronald McDonald Santa Hat Appeal

"When we were introduced to the charity a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders"

Donegal family help Una Healy launch Ronald McDonald Santa Hat Appeal

The Sweeney family are supporting the fundraising appeal

A Donegal family said that at one point, they had to sleep in their car while their newborn baby was attending daily treatment in Our Lady's Hospital For Sick Children in Crumlin.

That was before they were introduced to Ronald McDonald House, and the Sweeney family from Annagary are extremely grateful for the support they received at a very difficult time. They are now supporting the Santa Hat campaign so that other families can receive the same assistance.

Earlier this year, Patricia Sweeney and her family spent 17 nights at RMHC Ireland, while her newborn son Niall began his treatment for a heart condition in Crumlin Hospital.

“My family and I are so grateful to RMHC Ireland for their support during such a difficult time in our lives," she said. 

"Before finding out about RMHC, my family and I were commuting from our hometown in Donegal to Dublin every day which was agonising - at one point we even had to sleep in our car things got so bad.

"So, when we were introduced to the charity a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders, the staff were amazing and made us feel so welcome and comfortable – it’s an absolute priceless service.”

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC Ireland) has launched its annual Santa Hat campaign with Irish singer/songwriter and TV presenter Una Healy. The fundraising campaign has been running for over 10 years, raising over €1.2 million for the charity to date.

RMHC Ireland provides accommodation and a caring and supportive environment for families whose children are seriously ill and are hospitalised or undergoing medical treatment at Children’s Health Ireland, Crumlin.

Singer/songwriter and TV presenter, Una Healy shared her admiration for the work that RMHC Ireland does.

She said: “Ronald McDonald House provides such an invaluable service to families living right across Ireland. As a mum myself, I know how heart wrenching it is when your child is ill, so I can’t imagine the pain families go through when they’re unable to stay together while their child seeks treatment in hospital.

"That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to get behind the Santa Hat campaign this Christmas and help raise vital funds for RMHC Ireland, so they can continue to do this amazing work.”

The RMHC Ireland Santa hats are for sale in all 95 McDonald’s restaurants nationwide over the Christmas period for €2 each. All money raised will go directly to RMHC Ireland.

Sarah Carter, Vice President for Operations for McDonald’s Ireland said: “RMHC Ireland has a small team of 14 people (only three fulltime), who keep the doors open 24/7 and provide support to families 365 days a year, with home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens and laundry facilities close to Ireland’s dedicated children’s hospitals.

“Like many other charities, Covid-19 has also impacted RMHC Ireland’s  fundraising efforts. That’s why we’d really encourage everyone, if you are thinking of buying a Santa Hat this Christmas, please buy a RMHC Ireland Santa Hat at your local McDonald’s restaurant."

Despite all of the difficulties over the last 18 months, McDonald’s customers continued to demonstrate their generosity by donating their spare change at the collection boxes at McDonald’s restaurant tills across the country which helped to raise €315,398 for RMHC Ireland last year.

Joe Kenny, Executive Officer of Ronald McDonald House Charities in Ireland is very grateful.

“The Santa Hat campaign is one of our flagship fundraising initiatives, which helps raise vital funds to enable us to continue to provide a ‘home-away-from-home’ for families during an incredibly stressful times in their lives,” he said.

“We could not achieve our mission of providing families with a place to stay while their child undergoes medical treatment without support from the community and corporate partners like McDonald’s.

"For families of children receiving medical treatment, it is those nights and time together that gives them strength."

Ronald McDonald House Charities Ireland has supported over 4,300 families since first opening its doors 17 years ago. In 2020 alone, over 200 families from across the country stayed at RMHC Ireland. The average length of stay for a family in Ronald McDonald House last year was 26 nights.

More information on Ronald McDonald House Charities Ireland and the families they support can be found at

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