b'The Boothman/Flanagan familywith Barretstown campersNiamh and Aislinn If its too touchy-feely.well just go home,whispered Patricia to her husband Damian as they came through the gates of Barretstown in County Kildare.Their daughter Niamh had been diagnosed with cancer and they had been told about the camp at the foot of theWicklow Mountains where not just ill children but their siblings and families could come for a break.Patricia and Damian explained the reluctance they had about the unknown. We had just vacationed as a fam-ily elsewhere and Niamh had gotten so many stares with her bald head. It was heartbreaking. We werent sure whatBarretstown was all about, but we decided to come as a family. When your child has cancer, you live in anotherworld. But it turned out that Barretstown was also a different worlda safe environment where they let kids go attheir own pace, and that includes their siblings, with no talk of sickness. Cancer takes many things and it took someof the fun out of our family. Barretstown brought us back to finding that fun again. We left our troubles at that gate. Founded byPaul Newman as part of hisHole in the Wall camps in the US, Barretstown opened in 1994and has received supported from The Ireland Funds since its beginning.Children from all across Europe come,free of charge, to enjoy transformative fun at a time when they and their families need it most. Through Barret-stowns unique, medically supervised program offering family, summer, and teen sessions, these children are givenback their childhood and encouraged to rediscover their confidence and joy.In its first year, Barretstown welcomed 124 campers. Today, they welcome 1,800 campers and families and have a volunteer base of 700 peopleeach year.As Barretstown reaches its 18th year, The Ireland Funds talked to two grown campers, to see how Barretstown hastouched their lives. connect 2012 | 19'