Leinster Rugby are delighted to be charity partners with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland. MS Ireland is the only national organisation providing information, vital services and support to the 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS and their families. Des Mullally is living with MS and here he writes about his life with MS and his time at the MS Care Centre, the national respite and therapy centre for people living with MS, based in Dublin.

By way of introduction, my name is Des Mullally. I am a 54-year-old married to Elaine with two adult children and I was diagnosed with Relapsing and Remitting MS in 2001.

During the first few years after my diagnosis, I had numerous hospitalisations for periods of five to 21 days which coloured my expectations of future quality of life. I have an uncle with MS, so knew a little about it and I made early contact with MS Ireland who I found to be an excellent source of information.

The MS nurse in Beaumont suggested I might benefit from attending the MS Care Centre for a week with other people who were recently diagnosed and/or were under 40 years of age. There I met a group of 11 other people with MS, all at different stages of progression. The experience of that week led me to being a user of the service every year since and has allowed me to build lifelong friendships and build a support network with a group of people who were facing the daily challenges presented to them by MS.

Sadly, not all of our original group of 12 are still with us as four of them passed away before they reached the age of 50 having succumbed to the illness which is described as degenerative, but, in reality, when you have primary progressive MS it takes away your ability to recover from other illnesses.

Being diagnosed with a degenerative neurological illness is a lot to take in and I found the services provided by MS Ireland at branch level (I am a member of the Meath Branch) and through the Care Centre to be invaluable.

I suffered from a period of depression in 2004 that had me out of work for six months. With the help of my family, the medical professionals and the connections I had made through MS Ireland, I got through a very dark period in my life.

I have worked in Dublin Airport all my adult life except for a one year postingto manage the Duty Free shops in St. Petersburg airport in Russia. While I have had to make adjustments in all aspects of my life as a result of my illness, I still work full time as a manager responsible for the movement of all goods for resale within Dublin Airport.

I am very active in all sorts of extracurricular activities in work. I am on our Charities of the Year committee, I served four years on the Board of Directors for daa, until 2018, having been elected by the staff and am currently on the Services and Enterprise Divisional Executive for Forsa Trade Union. Outside of work I have been on my Resident’s Association for the last number of years.

I do all of this while managing fatigue and spasticity that, while it is now part of my life, it does not define me. One thing that has really suffered is my golf handicap, I am now a struggling 22-handicapper while pre-diagnosis I was an honest 14. Not giving up yet on the idea of getting back closer to the lower handicap at some stage.

My interest in rugby stems back to the 5 Nations, as it was then, in the mid-80s. At that time during the winter in the airport it was very quiet apart from the rugby weekends, which were our busiest days of the year.

Seeing all these guys in the flesh up close you could not help getting caught up in the excitement that those days brought. I have followed Leinster Rugby over the years. It’s also the only shared sporting interest I have with my wife. We had the pleasure of travelling to Cardiff last year for the first Guinness PRO14 match of the season against the Cardiff Blues with the team, had a fantastic trip, got to meet some of the squad and coaching staff (great group of guys).

Thank you for the many happy moments over the last number of years.


Keep an eye out for MS Ireland volunteers at tonight’s game and please give generously.

There are now over 17,000 tickets sold for Leinster Rugby’s last game of 2019 at the RDS Arena, against Ulster Rugby. Get yours now.