EVERYONE in Cork city and county has a soft spot for Marymount University Hospital and Hospice, because everyone knows someone who has benefited from the wonderful care and the unwavering support offered there.
“Our services touch a wide sector of the population,” says fund- raising officer, Mary Morrish.
“From relatives who may use our care of the elderly respite services, or our community palliative care nurses who treat people in their own homes across the length and breadth of Cork.”
Marymount will be 150 years old in 2020. The specialist palliative care centre for Cork and Kerry serves a catchment area of 600,000 people, costing €20 million a year to run, and needs to fundraise €3.5 million a year to continue providing its current level of service.
The Friends of Marymount’s consistent fundraising efforts ensure that excellent level of service is sustained.
“The passion of what they do is truly inspiring,” says Mary.
The much-loved and widely admired institution is a legend in its own right — the tireless fund- raising work of the Friends of Marymount and that of the volunteers helping run the extensive services within the hospice is legendary.
“Well, time is one thing that I have plenty of,” says Frank Peyton, who is one of 252 volunteers who freely gives of his time to volunteer at Marymount.
“It is like quick-sand around here,” says Frank, who is retired. “You get sucked in.”
Frank does lots of jobs, meeting and greeting, manning the reception desk and escorting people to hospital appointments.
“I am on first name terms with all the patients,” says Frank.
“The happier the patient, the happier their family.”
The Friends of Marymount, who are a voluntary group, are like one, big happy family. Year in, year out, the ‘Friends’, as they are affectionately known, organise a calendar of events, thinking up inventive methods to fund-raise for Marymount, making a huge impact on someone’s life.
Marymount, established in 1870, is the oldest and the busiest hospice in the country. All monies raised by the ‘Friends’ go directly to the hospital and hospice.
“I was asked to join the Friends of Marymount 22 years ago,” says Antoinette O’Sullivan, from Ballygarvan.
“Everyone knows someone who has died of cancer. I thought it would be a very good cause to be involved with.”
Anne O’Mahony, from Ballinora, and Valerie Cogan, from Glounthaune, who are also Friends of Marymount, agree with Antoinette.
“We meet up the last Monday of every month,” says Valerie.
“And we subcontract the various jobs for the different events that we organise throughout the year for Marymount among the Friends.
“22 of us take turns to run the Marymount charity shop on 87, Oliver Plunkett Street. We all do a turn for a few hours every day, six days a week. We’ve prided ourselves on running the shop solely by volunteers. People are great to drop us in a variety goods to sell in the shop.”
The inaugural meeting of the Friends of St Patrick’s Hospital, the original Cork hospice, took place at the hospital on September 18, 1980.
Sr Carmel O’Riordan, a Corkonian who returned to Cork from Hackney in London after working there for 27 years, was key. She decided that an association of ‘Friends’ should be formed with the general aim of helping the work of the hospital in any appropriate way, thereby formalising and continuing the charitable and financial assistance given unselfishly by individuals and groups over many years.
The Friends of Marymount host a variety of fundraising events from May to December every year.
How do they all happen?
“We rope people in,” says Valerie, smiling. “People look forward to the open garden days, the coffee mornings and the golf classics, the fashion shows, which are just some of the fund-raising events we run. We also have a number of draws including a car draw this year on December 1 for a Toyota Luna Hybrid.”
The people of Munster always support Marymount Hospital and Hospice every year.
“Some of the same people have been opening their gardens to the public year after year during the garden season to raise funds for Marymount,” says Valerie.
“We always rope others in to help with the teas!”
The Friends of Marymount have gone from strength to strength in almost 40 years since their first meeting.
Founding member, Michael Cogan of the Friends of Marymount, recalls his mother’s care in the caring foundations that was St Patrick’s Hospital, in Kieran McCarthy’s book.
“Before my mother entered St Patrick’s she was depressed and demanding and not at all her usual and cheerful and unselfish self. This was not surprising considering her months of long confinement to bed in the same surroundings. Within days in the hospital, she was her normal self. Her hair was done, her nails manicured and her interest in her surroundings retained. She even conjured up nicknames for those caring for her! In gratitude for the care my mother received, when we left the hospital we offered to help in any way we could.”
The attendance at the first meeting of the ‘Friends’ included more people who wished to express in a practical way their gratitude to St Patrick’s for the care that their loved ones received. The loyal legacy of the ’Friends’ continued when Marymount relocated to the €58 million state-of the-art facility in Curraheen. €24 million came from public support.
“I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Cork,” says Mary Morrish.
“Most of the people who help with the fundraising had a family member or friend been in receipt of care in one way or another.
“We are eternally grateful for the work that they do.”
The Friends of Marymount are a mighty force, intent on their mission.
“We come from all walks of life,” says Antoinette.
“Every year a busy calendar is compiled with events taking place all over Cork city and county!”
Over the years, the Friends have been fortunate in availing of the generosity of wonderful sponsors.
“One of them was a horse!” says Valerie.
Vi O’Leary, the owner of the well known horse Florida Pearl, donated part of the winnings to Marymount.
The dedication of the Friends of Marymount is well known far and wide.
“We’ve gained a few and lost a few,” says Anne O’Mahony.
“Everyone works hard and does their bit for Marymount. Every donation, no matter how small, counts.”
Organising an annual fund-raising calendar of events is time-consuming even with lots of enthusiastic volunteers queuing up to help out.
“We are all prepared to put in the hard work,” says Anne. “If an event is a success, we keep doing it.”
The Friends of Marymount have a valuable asset.
“We don’t necessarily have the time, we just have the heart,” says Anne.
The Friends are a family who come together, replenishing their enthusiasm year in, year out for the cause close to their hearts.
“If you are going to do something, do it well,” says Valerie, speaking on behalf of the Friends of Marymount.
The long list of fundraising events ranges from song contests, to fashion shows, to shopping trolley runs, to mountain climbs and of course, The Echo Women’s Mini-Marathon and the Cork City Marathon.
“We must mention our old reliables,” says Valerie.
“The people of Cork city and county are so good to us.”
- August 10: East Cork Harbour Marathon
- August 17: Marymount Race Day at Cork Racecourse Mallow
- September 7: Dingle Marathon, (please run for Marymount)
- September 12: Annual Flag Day for Marymount
- September 22: The Echo Women’s Mini Marathon — run for Team Marymount
- September 19: Ireland’s Biggest Coffee Morning
- September 21: Marymount West Cork Lunch at West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen
- September 28: Great Railway Cycle Carrigaline-West Cork
- October 27: Dublin City Marathon-Team Marymount
- November 17: Model Fest, Cork International Airport
- November 20: Christmas Floral Demonstration, Oriel House, Ballincolling
- November 24: Mega Bingo, Ballyphehane Community Centre
- December 1: Light up a Life
- December 6: Marymount Christmas Ball
- December 7: Christmas Cracker Cycling Event
- December 13: East Cork Lunch at Fota Island Resort
National Sunflower Day takes place every year from June 7 to 8 when people are asked to support their local hospice.
For more information or to show your support, you can email email@example.com
Phone: 021-4501201. Extension 228/251