IN A bittersweet story emerging from Tipperary, Ireland, a community is set to band together to help a young widow finish her dream home after the unexpected death of her husband.
Young couple Sinéad and Michael Barry met as teenagers in their hometown of Dundrum and quickly fell in love.
They settled down and started their lives together. Nicole age 13, Rowan age 6 and Keeley age 1 completed their family, and Michael and Sinéad began building their very own dream home where their children could grow up.
As reported by Tipperary Live, Michael, who worked as a steel erector and was talented when it came to DIY, built much of the house himself, putting in the work to house his family, who were quickly outgrowing the cottage they had rented for the past 14 years.
With the house nearing completion, Sinéad and Michael decided to apply for a small loan to finish the work and finally move the family into their dream home—but tragedy struck before they could do so.
Last Christmas, Michael suffered vision problems, and was admitted to hospital in January. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and was found to have Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma: the terminal disease had spread to his back, liver and lungs.
Within just a few weeks, Michael’s health had deteriorated to the point he slipped into a coma. He died in March, surrounded by his family. He was just 34 years old.
With the shock of Michael’s illness and subsequent death, the almost-finished house lay forgotten, the family grieving the loss of their much-loved husband and father.
As the main breadwinner, and with no life insurance due to his young age, Michael’s passing left the family unable to complete the work on the house.
Just as things seemed impossible, Michael’s sister Catriona reached out to RTE’s upcoming TV show, DIY SOS, and asked for help.
Moved by the Barry’s tragic story, the show’s producers agreed to help the family make it through the toughest time in their lives, and have released an appeal for tradespeople and suppliers to assist in the nine-day build to finish the family’s dream house: the last gift from their husband and father.
The build will take place from September 17 – 25, and the producers are holding an open day in Dundrum, Co Tipperary on August 22 where sympathetic people “can volunteer their time, or materials/interiors, meet the team and hear about the project” according to a spokesperson for the show.
The spokesperson, who spoke to Tipperary Live, said “It’s a huge project but in such a desperately sad time in this family’s life, we hope the Tipperary community will come together and help make something positive out of it.”
“We need to get Sinéad and the children into the home Michael was building for them. And we need the help of trades and suppliers in the community, in Tipperary and right around Munster and Ireland to come together to make this happen.”
If you are in the area and willing to volunteer to help the young family, you can do so by emailing [email protected]
You can also donate to Michael's memorial GoFundMe page to help support Sinéad, Nicole, Rowan and baby Keeva.