Daffodil Day | 

Mick McCarthy tells Late Late Show devastation of losing both of parents to cancer

Mick McCarthy on Daffodil Day with volunteer sellers Imelda Cormican from Sandymount and Cheryl Hickey from Firhouse

Allison Bray

Former Republic of Ireland captain and manager Mick McCarthy has praised charities like the Irish Cancer Society for helping to prolong the lives of those living with the disease.

The 63-year-old spoke of the pain of losing both of his parents to cancer, first with his mother Josephine who died of breast cancer at just 53, followed by his Irish father Charlie who later died of bowel cancer.

Appearing on RTE’s The Late Late Show in a segment dedicated to the Irish Cancer Society’s annual Daffodil Day fundraising drive, he said the death of his mother hit him hard later in life.

He said he remembers going to visit her one Saturday morning.

"Unbeknown to me she was dying, I didn’t know, I wasn’t aware of it,” he said, adding that deep down he probably did.

"I went off and played against Middlesbrough, we got beat 4 nil, its funny how I remember that result. Obviously I didn’t play very well.

"That’s the incredible thing, I thought I could just go and play, just go and play, I need to be normal,” a visibly emotional McCarthy added.

Years later when he was asked to speak about his own experience with cancer in his family, he revealed: “I started to speak about it and I couldn’t go on,” he said.

He said his mother, who worked as a hairdresser, was “very kind, very caring and a very churchgoing.”

“She was just lovely and went far too soon at 53,” he said.

And while he says his father was not emotionally demonstrative and “I was more likely to get a clip than a hug” he said it was a huge comfort to him that he was able to say goodbye to his father when he was in Cyprus and learned his father had just 24 hours to live.

“It meant so much to me to go and see him and give him a hug,” he said.

But he said the advances made in the treatment of cancer since then have allowed people to live with the disease for 20 years or longer.

“All the fundraising is keeping people alive and that’s the reason I’m here,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ireland and Leinster rugby player Andrew Porter had his blonde tresses shaved live on the programme in solidarity with those going through chemotherapy and living with cancer. He gave a special shout out to his friend Josh whose father is currently battling the disease.

He too lost his mother Wendy to breast cancer when he was just 12 years old.

“It hit myself and my family very hard,” he said, adding that he buried his mother the day before his first day of secondary school, which he said was very difficult.

But thanks to his friends and his passion for rugby he said managed to cope with her death, he added.

And he said he was happy to have his head shaved to support the fundraising drive.

“It’s a privilege to give back,” he said.

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