MARYMOUNT University Hospital and Hospice is legendary, serving a catchment area in Cork and Kerry of almost 600,000 people.
The universally admired institution, like so many community charities, confronts major fundraising hurdles on an annual basis.
The hurdle to reach the €3.5 million annual target to provide the same standard of excellent services was made even more difficult this past year, due to the pandemic. But individuals, communities and families continue to rally around for the hospice.
One such group is Alice Crowley’s family, who are on their way to raising a massive €30,000 for the place that looked after their mother, and Justin’s wife, so well.
“Mum lost her battle with cancer in 2018,” says Alannah Crowley, who is a secondary school teacher in St Patrick’s girls’ school, Cork.
“She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 but in typical spirit she very much got on with her life.
“And our life went on as usual, there were still school, dinners ready after school, and we still enjoyed beach walks with mum.
“We were all younger at the time and it was great to be at home with our mum.”
Alice, a volunteer with Irish Water Safety for more than 30 years, was a hugely popular figure throughout West Cork. Always giving, she got love and kindness back in spades. She was a legend.
“Mum had great faith and she was always very positive. It was great for us that she was so strong,” her daughter said.
“She never lost her hair during treatment. She looked the same as ever.”
The year she died, Alice’s four children, Alannah, Bebhinn, Caimin and Shane, with their dad, Justin, took part in the Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon and raised more than €7,000 for Marymount.
In 2019 they raised a similar amount.
“We were blown way with the support we received,” says Alannah.
But in 2020, things were different.
“Despite the fact the event didn’t go ahead due to the pandemic, we invited people anywhere in the world to run any distance within their 5km and raise money for the hospice. We couldn’t believe the results!” says Alannah.
“A total of 613 people registered and more than €18,500 was raised, with donations still coming in.”
Alice, like thousands of others, availed of the wonderful services provided for patients and their families at Marymount.
“One of my best friends, Evie, lost a loved one too and she wanted to do something in memory of her uncle Michael, who died this summer aged 53 and who was looked after so well in Marymount.
“We said we’d organise the virtual event to fundraise for Marymount in memory of mum and in memory of Michael this year,” said Alannah.
“We said we’d reach for the stars and hope to raise €7,000. Then we’d be happy.”
They went further than their planned destination raising more than €18,000 for Marymount. Now they are over the moon.
“It was just fantastic,” says Alannah.
Everyone got on board to support the cause. They were all in it together.
“Our local shop in Clonakilty printed t-shirts for us.”
People wore the t-shirts around Cork city and county.
“When I was running around Cork city, I came across five different people running wearing the t-shirts,” says Alannah.
“We were really proud of ourselves, it was so spread out.”
Alice’s loss is still felt hugely by her family.
“Things are different with mum not there,” says Alannah.
“She was very family orientated. The empty seat at the dinner table is a bit of a burden. We all have great memories.”
The Crowleys have great memories and feel great pride of how Alice bore her illness.
“If you met her on the street, you wouldn’t have any idea she was sick,” says Alannah. “She was very much coping.”
Alice got on with her life.
“She continued her job as a receptionist in a solicitor’s office, coaching lifesaving groups and going for her beloved beach walks.”
That was up until things took a turn for the worst.
“In the summer of 2018, I was in the USA and mum rang me and told me that I should come home,” recalls Alannah.
“It was July 4 and I remember saying, sure, will I come home next week or next month?”
Alannah needed to get home to Clonakilty quickly.
“Mum said I needed to come home today. I arrived home on a Friday and Mum was admitted to Marymount on the Sunday. She had passed away by Thursday.”
The family grieving for Alice, who they loved so well, still had the realisation that she was cared for in the most caring, kind way possible at Marymount.
“Marymount were so kind and caring,” says Alannah.
Nothing was spared.
“Their attention to detail was phenomenal,” adds Alannah.
“That is why we wanted to give something back.”
Alice’s memory and her spirit will live on always due to her family’s generous gesture every year.
“Marymount were thrilled and so appreciative of our fundraising efforts raising almost €30,000,” says Alannah.
“We were so happy.”
Marymount University Hospital & Hospice (Marymount) provides specialist palliative care services and services to care for dependent older people.
They are located within a state-of-the-art facility, near Curraheen, providing specialised and expert care to a population base of 560,000 people.
Its origins date back to 1870 with its foundation by the Religious Sisters of Charity in Cork.
The original hospital was built on the north side of the city on Wellington Road.
The service relocated in 2011 to purpose-built, modern, high-quality facilities in Curraheen, Cork.
As the specialist palliative care service for Cork city and county, Marymount Hospice serves as a centre for co-ordinating the delivery of palliative care services across all care settings in Cork.
Services include a 44-bed in-patient unit, a day care service (day hospice), an out-patient department, community-based services and bereavement and family support services.
For older people, Marymount Hospital provides long-term care, respite and palliative care support services.
For more information, see