‘I did it for Gaza’: 75-year-old grandmother skydives to raise funds for war victims

Mary McDonnell, from Co Tipperary, jumps with son Mike to raise funds for charities in Gaza

A 75-year-old Co Tipperary grandmother, who has a fear of heights, skydived from 3,962m (13,000ft) on Sunday and said she “did it for Gaza”.

Mary McDonnell, a retired nurse from Nenagh, jumped with her son Mike to raise funds and awareness for the victims of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza that followed the October 7th attack by Hamas. They have raised more than €27,000 to date.

The jump, starting from Skydive Ireland’s airstrip at Clonbullogue, Co Offaly, was delayed by 2½ hours due to “technical difficulties” but the pair boarded the plane just before 3pm.

“I didn’t like it, not one second of it. I didn’t expect to like it, but I did it and I did it for the men, women and children who are losing their lives in the horror that goes on every minute in Gaza,” Ms McDonnell said afterwards.


“They are what got me on the aircraft, out of the aircraft and it’s a small price to pay for the incredible response that we have received for this incredible cause. So, while I can’t say I enjoyed a single second of it, it was so worth it.”

Mike McDonnell said it was “all about the cause” and that they have received “amazing” support.

“We set out to try to get to €2,000 but we’re at over €27,000 now and I have to concede the ground and the skies to Mam on this one, it’s all about her and she’s been incredibly brave,” he said.

“It’s fair to say she didn’t enjoy the build-up and certainly not the jump. But she’s full of courage. I was the lucky one in that I actually enjoyed it.”

Ms McDonnell’s entire family showed up to support the pair in their endeavour. A short time after her landing, she shouted to well wishers: “I did it for Gaza”.

A related ‘Go Fund Me’ appeal will remain open until next weekend, with proceeds going to Medical Aid for Palestinians and Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

Ms McDonnell and her son have been long standing supporters of Palestinian people and were founding members of Nenagh Friends of Palestine in 2014 in response to the conflict taking place at the time.

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Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times