All of us at Burren Chernobyl Project are shocked and heartbroken at the sudden passing of our dear friend Pat O'Doherty.
We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to Neilus, Triona, Noreen, Sinead, Colm, Fiachra and all Pat’s family and friends.
Pat was a member of our committee and long term volunteer with Burren Chernobyl Project and many other organisations. She was one of the first volunteers in both Cherven and Gorodishche, brought children to Ireland and also had her own family visit Belarus.
It's difficult to capture the woman Pat was. Br. Liam has put together some words below.
We will miss you so dearly Pat, ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.
Funeral arrangements to follow. House strictly private.
At this moment I cannot believe I am writing about who and what Pat was. It is not much more than a week ago that I was visiting herself and Neilus in their home. Now as I look at her picture, I think, Pat cannot be gone; it is impossible.
Since 1985 when I first came to Ennistymon, Pat has been always on my side. In Russian they use the word fundament, i.e. foundation. Pat was truly a sound foundation of so many things. We landed on her strength and got strength from her. After my first visit to Cherven Orphanage in 1997, I came back home not knowing what to do but knowing that if I told Pat, something would be done. And, so it was. Pat was one of the first with other BCP volunteers to come back out to Cherven with some of her family to begin the initial clean-up when things were very much in need of sleeves-up, hands-on intervention.
Then, later, Pat was with us on the first trip to Gorodishche, again in the early years when things were so terrible. But together we rolled up the sleeves and began to do something. Today, as many who have since joined us on trips to Gorodishche know, that something has become a major work of change, improvement and love.
Over the years Pat and Neilus took children from Cherven and Gorodishche into their home. Alosha was with them six months, not an easy child to manage, but Pat took it on, dousing him with lashings of care, walks in Lahinch and positivity that he was improving. After his cleft- palate operation in Crumlin, Alosha returned to Belarus to be taken home by his family.
During it all, Pat was raising her own family, running drama groups, organising athletics, loading trucks with us and so much more. And always, ‘Come on out, we’ll have the cuppa.’
In the recent couple of weeks, I must say I felt Pat was not quite herself; I kept thinking there is something wrong with Pat, not just quite herself. I felt there was something wrong. There is something wrong indeed now. Pat is gone! Her legacy is here, her work, her kindness, her contribution in so many ways, her care for me. The grounding, the fundament she gave to so many in so many ways may even stay with us. But Pat is gone.
And it might sound strange to say this, but I am in Minsk and will miss the funeral. I can imagine saying to her, ‘Pat, I’ll try to get home for the funeral.’ And Pat might reply, ‘You will not. Stay there and get on with the work. There’s plenty enough people here to bury me. I’ll be grand.’
Pat is gone. I won’t be grand, not for a long time yet!
May she rest in great peace.