AOIFE McAloon was just 10 years old when her mother died.

Colette McGovern, from Drumbroughas North, just outside Lisnaskea, passed away on February 18, 1998, six months after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a form of cancer.

Aoife, the youngest of three sisters, remembers her ‘mammy’, who worked in the kitchens at St. Ronan’s Primary School, as a “loving, caring and selfless person”.

Now, 20 years later and with two young children herself, Aoife is organising a charity dance in her memory to raise money for two deserving charities.

She is being helped to organise the event, which is taking place in the Donn Carragh Hotel in Lisnaskea at the start of February, by her dad, Albert, and older sisters, Ashlin Lowry and Clodagh Swift.

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter this week, Aoife recalled the close relationship she enjoyed with her mother.

“I suppose because I was the baby in the house, I was a little bit spoilt,” she admitted.

“In the last years, the girls were at university and I was at home, so it was just me, mammy and daddy. I was brought everywhere!

“Mammy worked in the kitchen of my primary school in St Ronan’s so she was always there if I needed her.

“Me and my friend used to go up to the kitchen window at break times to see her and she’d always have something for us, an apple or a bun!

“She had planned to retire from the kitchen when I left primary school, but unfortunately she fell ill before that.”

Mrs. McGovern started to feel unwell in August 1997 and was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. She began chemotherapy straight away.

Aoife said: “She was in remission at Christmas 1997 and went back in for one more chemo in January 1998 but never recovered. All in all, she was ill for six months.”

Describing her mother as a “loving, caring, selfless person”, Aoife said: “She would go without herself to make sure we always got what we wanted. She was very house proud and always had the house immaculately clean and decorated to perfection!

“Mammy was very loving. I remember getting up and going to the kitchen where I knew she would be.

“She’d greet me with a beaming smile, say “morning flower” and give me a hug!”

With the charity dance just weeks away, Aoife said she was inspired to organise the event by her mother’s love of music.

All the money raised by the dance will be donated to the Patient Comfort Fund of the Haematology Unit at Belfast City Hospital and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Aoife said: “When I was little my dad and sisters had a band, ‘Southern Cross’, that played almost every weekend. I remember Mammy and I would be there all night listening to them too!

“Daddy and my sisters ran two dances, in two different years, after mammy died to raise funds for the ward she was treated in and the local health centre in Lisnaskea to buy two defibrillators.

“I just decided that, because its 20 years, which is a lifetime, I thought we needed to mark the anniversary and hopefully help some other people in the process.”

She added: “A dance is a good way to get people out for a good night that maybe wouldn’t normally go out to enjoy themselves and make memories, while helping us fundraise for two great causes.”

The charity dance in memory of Colette McGovern will take place in the Donn Carragh Hotel on Saturday, February 3.
Fermanagh-based wedding band,

Addiction, featuring Maria Cameron Music, will be providing the tunes.

Admission will cost £10, with doors opening at 9pm. There will also be a raffle on the night.