tragic passing | 

Students raise €70,000 for cancer charity to honour Dr Emer Holohan

Cian Sullivan dyed his hair for the fundraiser

Arlene Harris

Students at Terenure College have raised almost €70,000 with a cancer fundraiser in honour of the late Dr Emer Holohan, the mother of one of their classmates.

After hearing that she was seriously ill with cancer, they decided to fundraise for the charities which were so supportive during her illness – and in less than a fortnight have raised more than €69,000. Sadly, since they started their campaign, Dr Emer Holohan, beloved wife of chief medical officer Tony Holohan and mother to Ronan (18) and Clodagh (20), has passed away.

But the fundraiser is continuing in her honour thanks to the efforts of students including Cian Sullivan (18) and three of his friends – James Foran, Luke Breslin and Lorcan O’Neill.

They started the Shave or Dye campaign on February 15.

What started off as a small group, soon grew to 50 young men who have all shaved or coloured their hair.

Cian said: “We wanted to honour Emer and support Ronan, so what started as four lads planning to shave or dye, grew to include more of our classmates until finally there were 50 of us taking part.

“I started a GoFundMe page and hoped that we could raise €1,000, but after we all shared it on social media, within 24 hours, we had raised €10,000.

“On the Monday, we all attempted to dye our hair and there were lots of dodgy social media stories going around as some had to attempt it four or five times as they read the instructions wrong, but we got there in the end.”

According to fellow student James, Terenure College has a strict policy on haircuts, so this project has also been a great deviation from the norm.

Buoyed up by the success of their fundraising, which in five days had reached €38,000, they now want to raise as much as possible as they are aware of how charities have suffered over the past 12 months.

Cian added: “We are shocked at how much support we have had so far and would love to be able to donate €35,000 to both The Irish Cancer Society and Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross, as so many of our sixth-year students have had family members affected by cancer in the past year alone, including my own mum who is also a breast cancer survivor.”

To donate to this fundraiser, visit the GoFundMe page on

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