Faith sustains Munster rugby hero’s widow

Faith sustains Munster rugby hero’s widow Anthony Foley with his wife Olive, father Brendan and family friend Brian O'Brien at their home in Killaloe Picture: Michael Cowhey

The widow of former Munster rugby coach Anthony Foley has said her faith has grown stronger since her husband’s death, and has helped her coped with his loss.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Olive Foley said: “I have a deep faith, and it’s probably even strengthened  over the last couple of years and I do believe it has really helped me through. I just feel very blessed and guided by the Holy Spirit. I’m very lucky.”

Mrs Foley described how her son Tony’s #8Masses4no8 campaign came about, when in the aftermath of the Munster coach’s death in October 2016 a friend who was not a regular Massgoer told the then 11-year-old she was going to go to Mass for the next eight Sundays because Anthony Foley had been a great No.8 for Munster and Ireland.

Tony, she explained, proposed promoting this idea online, and during the campaign Foley said the family received numerous messages from people who were drawn back to Mass by it.

Bringing up gifts during the Offertory in this August’s papal Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, she said, was “maybe a little bit better, marginally a bit better” than watching Munster win its first European Cup final in 2006. “We were very blessed to have been asked to bring up the gifts to the Pope when he was here,” she said, describing the day as “a wonderful experience all round”.