C: Facebook

Award for Eldest brother of siblings who lost both parents to cancer

Patrick Clifford and his brothers had their lives turned upside down after tragically losing both of their parents to cancer in the space of five months. 

Their mother Elaine was diagnosed with stage four cancer in May 2021, and passed away from the illness in August 2021, leaving behind her devastated husband Pádraig and her four boys. 

Just four months later, Pádraig discovered he also had cancer, and was admitted to University Hospital Kerry in January of this year. He passed away on 25th January 2022, surrounded by his loving family and friends. A GoFund me campaign was subsequently set up to support the boys, as they came to terms with adjusting to life without their parents, raising over €380,000 to help the boys purchase their home.

Pádraig and Elaine. (C: Facebook)

Patrick (21), the eldest of the four siblings, never thought he would have to shoulder the huge responsibility of caring for his three brothers, Jack (now 15), Andrew (8), and Conor (5). But he has risen to the challenge, telling Kerry’s Eye how he has made a daily vow to “get up, and put a smile on, and keep going, because they are relying on me”.

The local paper interviewed the inspiring young man from Milltown, who lives at the family home with his three brothers, and won the overall prize at the Lee Strand Kerry Garda Youth Achievement Awards. Patrick was presented with his award last week.

The award recognises the great contribution of young people aged between 13 and 21 in their communities in Kerry, with awards presented to those who have made a positive impact on their community, making it a better place to live. The Special Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has overcome difficult circumstances, has defied the odds, and whose commitment deserves to be recognised. Patrick was crowned the overall winner at the 2022 Awards, and was presented with the Youth Achievement Award at an awards ceremony at the Ballyroe Heights Hotel on Friday, attended by up to 170 people.

“It’s an eye-opener at 21 years of age that you’re looking after three younger siblings: you live for today, because you don’t know what tomorrow brings”, Patrick said, as he celebrated winning the Award.

Assistant Commissioner Eileen Foster, who presented the awards, said that this year’s awards were particularly significant as they marked 25 years of the Kerry Youth Achievement Awards and is also An Garda Síochána’s Centenary year.

“An Garda Síochána would also like to congratulate young people and their families for their significant contribution to improving the society we live in. In a time of monumental change and challenges across society, it is wonderful to see young people continuing to give back to their communities and long may that continue into the future,” she said.

Taking to social media, Patrick described the accolade as “an unexpected achievement”, adding that he was proud to receive the award out of 22 young, inspirational people.

People expressed their well-wishes to Patrick and his brothers online, with one comment describing him as an “absolute superman”.

“What an absolute superman. I can’t think of any other description for him, and them.

Strong as a horse.

Good luck to them all and I sincerely hope the good fortune they doubtless deserve shines down on them soon, and often”.

Others said they were inspired by his bravery, and his determination to remain positive in the midst of adversity.

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