Jockeys meet with kidney dialysis patients at Tallaght University Hospital’s Vartry Renal Unit

Jockeys TUH

Five jockeys who will be riding out in the prestigious Punchestown Horseracing Festival have visited renal patients undergoing dialysis treatment at the state-of-the-art Vartry Renal Unit, at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH). The jockeys are taking part in a special fundraising race for the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund which in turn pays for the arts and health programme at TUH, for patients undergoing kidney dialysis.

Professor Catherine Wall, Consultant Nephrologist at TUH who took the jockeys on a tour of the Vartry Renal Unit explained, “For many patients, our arts and health programme offers a very valuable distraction during their dialysis sessions which can feel tedious and repetitive, taking place three times a week for many years. We are grateful for the valuable support provided by the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund (PKRF), so we can continue this worthwhile initiative.”

One of the jockeys taking part in this year’s race who visited TUH to meet dialysis patients is Katie McManmon from Ballyteague, in Co Kildare. Katie also works as a Horse Racing Coach in the Racing Academy in the Curragh and says she wanted to ride in the charity race, after watching a close colleague suffering from kidney failure. “In my first proper job, the Head Man at the Stables had a problem with his kidneys. It gave me an important insight into the very real hardship caused by the disease.” 

The PKRF Charity was founded by James Nolan the owner of the Nolan’s butchers in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. James says “My life was transformed after my sister donated a kidney to me back in 1987, prior to that I knew nothing other than hospitals, diets and medications. After I recovered I wanted to help others. It was great to visit TUH and see first-hand how patients are benefiting from the funds we have raised.”

Alison Baker Kerrigan, Arts Officer at TUH paid tribute to the ongoing support provided by the Charity noting the jockeys had, “Improved the hospital experience for kidney dialysis patients by making the Arts accessible to all. Our artist in residence Lucia Barnes who facilitates the patient art sessions does an amazing job of listening to the patient’s likes and needs before working with them to create a piece of art that is both enjoyable to do and important to them. Lucia’s combined skillset as both a qualified nurse and professional artist is hugely beneficial to all involved.” 

This charity horserace set up by the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund is now in its 32nd year and to date has raised over €1.7 million euro for patients suffering kidney failure. This year 71 amateur jockeys applied for just 25 places to take part in the final race of the festival, on Saturday 29th April next.


Names Left to Right: Jockeys – Aoife Kiernan (Co. Meath), Eimear Smullen (Co Kildare), Cliona Costello (Co Clare), Katie McManmon (Co Kildare), Sinead Smullen (Co Kildare), with kidney dialysis patient Paul from Dublin

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at



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