Individuals and businesses around Laois are getting behind a fundraising effort to build awareness and support structures for those affected by epilepsy.

Mark McGuire whose son Ciarán (7) is affected by Benign Rolandic Epilepsy, will climb Mount Kilimanjaro in August to raise funds for Epilepsy Ireland.

Mum Marian has organised a coffee morning for this Friday, February 10, at her workplace, Kilminchy Hair Salon, Portlaoise.

The McGuire family previously lived in Mountmellick but now reside in Newbridge.

“Ciarán was diagnosed with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy a year-and-a-half ago. My wife found him on the floor one Saturday morning having what looked like a stroke. It was very frightening; we thought he was dying,” said Mark who is a psychotherapist and part-time lecturer.

“Benign Rolandic Epilepsy has the symptoms of a stroke such as twitching, numbness and tingling of the face or tongue and drooling.

“They are called focal seizures which means they affect only one side of the brain at a time  but they can shift from side to side,” he said.

“We got him to hospital but it took weeks to get a diagnosis. We were told it could be a brain tumour or a brain bleed,” recalled Mark.

“He has had a tough year-and-a-half as he had an allergic reaction to the medication and ended up in hospital for a week but now he has new medication and the seizures are managed.”

The family is keen to raise awareness of Benign Rolandic Epilepsy. “We find that we are learning about it and teaching others such as Ciarán’s school and sports clubs. We have to educate everyone about it,” Mark said.

Along with friends, he has done charity hikes in the past.

“We climbed the four highest peaks in Ireland. However, I have never taken part in anything as extreme as Kilimanjaro. It is daunting – people have died on it,” he said.

“It is an absolute lottery whether my body will react badly to the altitude.

“You can’t really prepare for that so there is an element of nervousness around that. I’m going with a tour group and there will be a doctor on the trip. I’m footing the €4,700 bill for the climb so all donations will go to the charity.”

So far the response has been extremely encouraging, according to Mark. “We have raised about €2,000 to date online. Sean Hall from Manguard Plus has pledged €1,000 and Marian is getting a great response in the hair salon.”

The coffee morning at Kilminchy Hair Design on Friday will feature a sponsored raffle and tickets are now available from the salon. Prizes have been donated by a range of businesses including: Hummingbird Interiors, Portarlington; The Heritage Hotel, Killenard; The Killeshin Hotel; Treacy’s pub and restaurant, The Heath; O’Gormans’s restaurant, Kilminchy; Kilminchy Pharmacy; Cleland’s supermarket, Kilminchy and Downey’s Centra.



Source:, Caroline Allen