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Loving Mum who lost son to drunk driver dies of cancer

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Catherine Walsh in happy times with her son Callum Grimes

Catherine Walsh in happy times with her son Callum Grimes

Catherine Walsh in happy times with her son Callum Grimes

Tributes have been paid to loving mother Catherine Walsh, who has died almost three years after losing her son Callum Grimes in a drunk driving incident.

Catherine (51), from Rush, north Co Dublin, died on Easter Monday after a long battle with cervical cancer.

She had lived to see justice done for her son, when Derek Keane (40) was jailed in December for dangerous driving causing death.

Tragically the mother-of-three was diagnosed while the then severely injured Callum was in hospital after the road incident on December 27, 2016.

Catherine's ex-husband, Callum's father Mark Grimes (51), told the Herald she had been a "loving, caring soul" who'd "fought tooth and nail" to live, to be with her family.

But Catherine had been devastated by the loss of Callum, her "blue-eyed boy".

However, the family are thankful she survived to see Keane, of The Cottage, Loughshinny, Skerries, Co Dublin, sentenced.

Keane drove into Callum at Loughshinny on the R128 between Rush and Skerries, after drinking up to 15 pints and a gin and tonic.

The part-time firefighter was sentenced to five-and-a-half years for dangerous driving causing death in December last year.

Callum died in July 2017 in hospital, seven months after he was injured on the road.

Catherine, a healthcare assistant with St Joseph's Intellectual Disability Services in Portrane, had lived her final hours with the loving support of her family, including her two daughters, Michaela (26) and Lauryn (20), who were able to visit her at the hospice until their mother passed away.

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Drunk driver Derek Keane

Drunk driver Derek Keane

Drunk driver Derek Keane

"We're all very tired and emotional," Mark said.

"It was three long days in the end, the girls were with her and she fought hard.

"Catherine died in St Francis Hospice. She was due to come home but took a little bit of a turn on Saturday morning. The girls were sent for and they got to spend time with her.

"St Francis Hospice were so good because of the way things are, to let them have that time.

"The staff were amazing with her and the girls got to spend the last moments with her.

Pain

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Callum Grimes

Callum Grimes

Callum Grimes

"Catherine went into the hospice about four weeks ago, initially for pain management but unfortunately the cancer spread very quickly and she never came back out.

"It was originally cervical cancer. She got remission for that and then she got diagnosed with secondary cancer of the lung and then it spread to her bladder, bowel and liver. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer when Callum was in hospital.

"She started her treatment four days after we buried Callum, around July 18. She got a few months' remission, allowing her to travel a bit with her sister.

"But unfortunately, last year, we went into St Vincent's Hospital and they told us it was back and the prognosis wasn't good.

"They initially gave Catherine three months but she kept fighting and she stayed around for a year. Catherine really wanted to live.

"She was such a positive person, all through our time with Callum in hospital. She would go over and give hugs to other people in hospital, she'd chat to them. She made lots of friends in Beaumont Hospital - she ended up going to visit people and becoming very friendly with some. She went to Donegal with friends from hospital."

Despite the heartbreaking loss the mother suffered, Mark said Catherine "couldn't stand negativity".

Better

"It was always going to get better, it was always going to turn out right," Mark said. "That's how Catherine was.

"She used to go round saying her old phrase, 'Keep it lit.'

"She was in a lot of pain but she fought tooth and nail and it would be a rare day where you'd see Catherine down or negative.

"She believed right until the end she was going to beat it. Catherine had an amazing resilience and strength of character.

"Callum was her blue-eyed boy, she loved her three kids.

"She took his death and the way he died very much to heart.

"I think the one regret she would have was she didn't really have a chance to grieve him, as four days after Callum's funeral, we were going to St Luke's for her first appointment.

"She did everything with Lauryn and Michaela, right to the end. She fought hard for them. The most important thing was the strength of her mind in fighting the cancer."

Catherine had adored her grandsons Harley (7) and Callum Junior (2) and Mark said she "loved having her family around her.

"Despite the cancer, she was determined to live life the best she could," he said.

"Catherine was a loving, caring, really good soul. We've been separated for 15 years but we were good friends. She loved caring for others. Catherine will be so badly missed. But I know just what she'd say today to us all. 'Keep it lit.'"

The family have asked the public to donate what they can to St Francis Hospice donations appeal online at: www.sfh.ie or by phone 01-8327535/01-8294000

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Callum Grimes’ father Mark

Callum Grimes’ father Mark

Callum Grimes’ father Mark