Sunday 27 March 2016

"The Circle of Life" Organ Donation

Two of the hardest things in life are (1) experiencing the loss of a child (2) explaining to a child that their loved one has sadly died.

For Martin & Denis Goggin, their world suddenly changed in 2006 when their only child, their son Eammon was involved in a road accident in Spiddal, Co Galway and unfortunately died.

The only positive impact that Eamonn's death had was by the donation of his organs that made him become a living legacy.
His organs such as his heart, kidneys and liver gave a second lease of life to four people.

Eamonn's parents were heartbroken and felt incomplete without him.
Eamonn's mother Martina began to express her grief through the power of penmanship, she started to write poems.
Since then her poems have been published in a book which she called "Under Connemara Skies: Towards Light"
The book can be purchased at a cost of €15.00 including post & packaging within Ireland.

However, in order to deal with their grief, Martina and her husband Denis established "The Circle of Life Garden" in Salthill, Galway which is overlooking the sea.
It is a memorial garden which opened on May 6th 2014 in memory of Eamonn and how his donation of organs gave life to others.
The garden is a place of tranquility and a place to sit and express one's feelings of grief and hope.
The cost to date in creating the Circle of Life is €180,000 which was funded mainly via voluntary donations and individual sponsorship.

Martina and Denis also established a charity called "Strange Boat Donor Foundation"
Its a charity for families/friends of organ donors, a place to gain awareness and information, a place to help others.
In July 2007 Strange Boat CD was recorded and named in memory of Eamonn.
It was recorded at Cuan Studios where Eamonn worked as a sound engineer before his death.
To order a copy of the CD please contact

There are 40 donating hospitals and 3 transplant centres in Ireland.
After death a person's heart, lungs, kidney, liver, pancreas, small bowel and tissue can be donated.

Living donation (kidney) can be donated but you need to contact a transplant centre directly.

If you wish to donate blood please contact

If you wish to become an organ donor please contact

Writing this blog was an emotional journey for me since my brother Jonathan was involved in a road accident in 2009 and he too sadly died.
Jonathan was only 18 years old.
So writing this has brought back memories for me.

Always remember dead or alive you can give the gift of life to others.


Eamonn's mother Martina Goggin kindly agreed to talk to me and her is her story.

The garden was formally opened in May, 2014.  The construction of the garden commenced in September 2013 but Strange Boat Donor Foundation had been preparing, designing and planning the garden for about five years prior to that.

The garden was established to commemorate those who have given the gift of life to others through organ donation.  It acknowledges and remembers organ donors, it is a place of comfort and support for their families and loved ones and is a place of reflection and thanksgiving for organ recipients, and a place of inspiration, healing and hope for all who visit it.

Organ donation is giving the gift of life to another person through donating organs following death.  Living kidney donation is also an important aspect of organ donation where a person (usually a relative) donates a kidney to another, also part of a liver may be donated.  

In Ireland, there is no donor register, but donor cards can be acquired through the Irish Kidney Association, or picked up at chemists.  Even if a person does not have a donor card or, indeed, does have a donor card, the most important thing to do to ensure your wishes re donation following your death is to inform your next of kin of your wishes.  The permission of the family will always be sought before donation/transplantation takes place.

Organ donation is hugely important as it really is a gift of life from one person to another.  There are almost 600 people waiting in Ireland for life saving transplants, and without the generosity of others, many of these people will die.

My husband, Denis, and I set up the charity Strange Boat Donor Foundation following the death of our son, Eamonn, in a car crash in 2006.  As were his wishes we donated his organs and so became very aware of the importance of organ donation not just to recipients but also as a source of comfort to donor families.

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