The new Health Centre was built in 1954 at the same end of the Rocky Road and excellent nursing and medical services are centred there. The former dispensary had been in the village street, in the eastern portion of the house now occupied by the Misses Alice and Kathy Flynn next to the village hall. Earlier in the century, two sisters, Mrs. Dawson and Mrs Sealy lived in the house now know as Byron Lodge and run as a guesthouse by Mrs Byron Casey. Mrs Dawson was an excellent gardener; Mrs Sealy had a room in the house, set aside as a dispensary and ministered there to callers with sores, bruises or other ailments.
The Nursing Association was founded by Lady Clodagh Anson, when she returned to live in Ardmore in the late thirties. It did wonderful work in the dispensary district of Ardmore, various functions and collections being held by an industrious committee, to help finance it. These functions were generally held in the school, both the boys’ and girls’ schools being taken over, for preparation of tea and sandwiches. John Mansfield was in charge of the huge Tigaluinn primus stove, out in the shed. It made a noise like a tractor and John highly enjoyed the curiosity occasioned by the noise, and pumped it up more and more, to impress the callers. Dancing took place in the boys’ school, with Lady Clodagh sitting in state at the top, resplendent in her magnificent diamond and pearl necklace.
The district nurse lived in a rented house in the village and cycled to her patients every day, often working in extremely difficult conditions, in bachelor households without water or light. The last two district nurses settled down in the parish, the late Mrs. Angela Keane of Duffcarrick and Mrs Catherine Veale of Youghal Road. They were the last of a line of dedicated unsung ladies, who went about their work quietly and unobtrusively and the people of the parish are deeply indebted to them.
It is difficult to remember how inadequate the health services were, in the early decades of the century. There was great poverty, poor living condition and tuberculosis was endemic in the country, and that meant Ardmore too. Many people were known to be, what is euphemistically termed ‘delicate’; that meant suffering from tuberculosis and sadly many of us older ones, knew several adults who died of it.
The late Noel Browne says in his book ‘Against the Tide’, “there was at the time, no known medical treatment. Hospital cases had to be paid for. Since there was no hope that the out-of-work patient could pay, he would be sent home to die and in the process he would infect one or more of his family”. As is universally known when Noel Browne got elected to the Dáil in 1948, he proceeded to change all that, and did effect a revolution in three short years, with a massive hospital building programme; the finance needed was available from the Hospital Sweeps funds, so the elimination of t.b. was achieved, and the infra-structure for a good health service was established.
Perhaps, there are several discrepancies in today’s Health Service, but by and large, we do not realise what a wonderful Health Service does exist, available at all levels, to all members of the community.
Author: Siobhan Lincoln