Vicky Phelan: hundreds expected in Kilkenny village for public tribute to campaigner

Memorial service for the late cervical cancer awareness campaigner will be held in Mooncoin on Sunday

Hundreds are expected to descend on the Co Kilkenny village where Vicky Phelan grew up for a memorial service for the late cervical cancer awareness campaigner that will be held on Sunday.

The mother of two, who died on November 14th, is originally from Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, but lived in Annacotty, Co Limerick.

With her High Court case in 2018, she lifted the lid on how her cervical smear tests were handled after the HSE outsourced them to a US firm.

Ms Phelan (48) was awarded €2.5 million in damages but without admission of liability by the HSE, and she refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to the settlement, which was settled on the steps of the High Court just prior to the case being heard.


Ms Phelan was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014, three years after a smear test she had was wrongly reported as clear.

Her case prompted more than 220 other women to come forward over misreported smear test results and led to several reviews of the State’s cervical cancer screening programme, CervicalCheck, and a damning report by Dr Gabriel Scally who said it was “doomed to fail”.

A private funeral was held for Ms Phelan three days after her death as per her wishes. The Phelan and Kelly families last week announced they have scheduled an opportunity for the public to say their goodbyes and celebrate her life in Mooncoin on Sunday at 1pm at the Church of the Assumption.

Gardaí are expecting large crowds to attend the memorial service and have put a traffic plan in place.

In a statement issued by the Waterford/Kilkenny/Carlow Garda division said the church where the memorial is being held is on the N24 at the Carrick-on-Suir side of Mooncoin village and can be easily accessed by foot or road.

“The shurch itself has a capacity of 300 (maximum). Thereafter, attending patrons will be diverted to the nearby GAA complex where big screens will be live-screening the event. Park and ride will also be encouraged.” gardaí said.

“There will be no restrictions to traffic travelling through the village, albeit there will be a strict no parking policy on the main road and throughout the village itself. Cars parked illegally will be towed away.”

Gardaí said traffic approaching from the Dublin/Waterford direction will be diverted at Dawn Meats Grannagh toward parking areas in the factory grounds. A park-and-ride facility will be provided there.

Traffic arriving from the Limerick/Clonmel direction will be diverted at the Tower Road junction from the Piltown Bypass towards a parking area at Piltown GAA Grounds. Another park-and-ride facility will be at this location.

Those seeking to park in Mooncoin village will be directed towards available parking in Martin Hawley’s field on main street, the Mooncoin GAA complex and Mooncoin Celtic Club grounds at Suir Crescent.

A live stream will be available for those who cannot attend the memorial.

The Kelly and Phelan families added in their announcement of the memorial celebration: “At this point it’s fair to say that music will feature prominently, with some of her favourite musicians playing a few of her favourite tunes on the day,” honouring Vicky’s deep love of music.

Her family added in a message on the Vicky Tribe Facebook page: “Vicky connected with so many people, on so many different levels & when she asked us to host a gathering in Mooncoin after her passing, we could honestly think of nothing more appropriate.

“We hope that Sunday’s gathering will be all that Vicky hoped it would be, an opportunity for family, friends & the wider public to join with us in this celebration of her life.”

Vicky is survived by her husband, Jim; her children Amelia and Daragh; her parents; and four siblings.