herald

Saturday 21 April 2018

Gillian's book published by brother and sister... two years after her death

A brother and sister have become Ireland's youngest publishers with the launch of their late sister's book.

Cystic fibrosis sufferer Gillian Dempsey, from Athy, Co Kildare, wrote Frogs Of A Different Nature when she was just eight years of age.

Tragically she passed away in January 2009 at just 10 years of age.

Her grieving family -- including her siblings Lauren (14) and Aaron (10) -- were determined Gillian's literary efforts would be published and could help other people suffering from cystic fibrosis.

Gillian's parents -- Joe (41) and Elaine (37) -- approached local photographer Robert Redmond, who put them in touch with publisher Gerry Kelly.

Lauren, who also has the condition, and Aaron came on board with publishing the book and set up their own token company, L&A Publishing.



therapy

Proud mum Elaine says L&A Publishing has been a "little bit of a therapy" for the whole family.

"They are the youngest publishers in Ireland. They've been on a high ever since the launch, they're so proud that they can do this and that it's for their sister.

"It's a little bit of therapy for the family. The four of us have become so close; it has been a great support for each other.

"My oldest daughter, Lauren, is a cystic fibrosis sufferer as well and she is taking trial drugs and she's doing very well. We're taking each day as it comes, but she's doing well now.

"We're getting the benefit as a family and the two charities are getting the benefit too."

Brave Gillian put pen to paper in 2007 and wrote Frogs of A Different Nature as part of National Book Week.

Elaine told of how Gillian came to write the story when her teacher visited her in hospital and asked her to write something about frogs as part of the exercise.

Gillian thought of something her physiotherapist used to say when she was younger, when she was suffering from one of her frequent bouts of coughing.

Her physio used to encourage young Gillian to cough up her "dirty green frogs", Elaine recalled.

At first, brave Gillian didn't want to write about frogs but then remembered the advice she was given as a very young girls and took to the project with gusto. Frogs Of A Different Nature was launched almost two weeks ago and the Dempsey family have been receiving great support from local people.

"At the book launch they said we might get 150, but 450 people showed up. We've been getting great support from the whole town of Athy," said Elaine.



FREE

"The publisher Gerry Kelly has been great. He donated the first 1,000 copies for free," she added. The book can be bought locally at Winkles and the Gem in Athy for €10, or by contacting the Dempseys at frogsofadifferentnature @gmail.com for details.

Ireland has one of the highest instances of people with cystic fibrosis in the world with over 1,100 sufferers here.

All money raised will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Unit in Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, where Gillian received treatment. The Make A Wish Foundation, which made it possible for Gillian to be a princess for day, will also be a recipient.

hnews@herald.ie

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