The Taoiseach has paid tribute to the courage and resilience of hospice residents and staff after a year like no other as he attended the virtual Christmas lights ceremony at one of the country’s largest hospices this evening.
Speaking at Cork’s Marymount Hospice in Curraheen, at the launch of its Light Up A Life Christmas lights fundraising campaign, Micheál Martin, said this particular hospice is of great personal importance to him and his family – his mother, sister-in-law and mother-in-law all received compassionate care from Marymount before their deaths.
“The care of the team provided will never be forgotten by our family,” he said.
“This has been a very difficult year for our country and especially those who have lost a loved one or a relative.
“Hospices have stepped up to support the community, acute hospitals and the nursing home sector to provide compassionate end-of-life care and at the same time fundraising activities have been curtailed, impacting on hospice’s capacity to maintain the vital services.”
He said the government has provided significant additional funding for hospices and for the broader palliative care sector, and that support will continue.
But he paid tribute to the courage and resilience of the service users and the staff, who despite the pressures of the last year, have continued to deliver care with compassion to people diagnosed with a terminal illness.
In a speech, which was streamed online, he urged people to take a moment to remember those who died during the year, to share memories of them, and to recall how they lit up lives during their time with them.
Chris Broderick, the assistant director of nursing services for older people at Marymount, said while shining a light has become a symbol of remembering those we have lost, it is also worth remembering those we are still protecting.
She said there is added significance as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We hope our light up a life remembrance service offers all of you a little space to remember those who you have loved and you are not here this Christmas but also to remember all of those who have died in the wider community because of the pandemic,” she said.
“I realise that 2020 has been a hard year for all our residents. Those who have lived here have had less contact with their families and have had to stay apart to protect one another.
“And it’s at times like this really that we realise the importance of staying connected and we all need to dig deep and appreciate the little things and the special moments of the day we share with others.”
She paid tribute to Marymount after a really difficult year which saw them having to adjust to a more challenging work environment.
“But I must say we have learnt a lot from this year and we have also learnt that when adversity strikes and the road ahead seems very long, we can discover within ourselves our resilience and strength that we never knew we had,” she said.
“We look toward the Christmas season with hope and we carry that on into the new year.”
Following the cancellation of most of its fundraising activities, Marymount has asked people to support its Light Up a Life campaign, by sponsoring a Christmas light at its campus.
You can sponsor a light in memory of a loved one on the Marymount tree, or dedicate an online light to a loved one through its online memory tree at lightupalife.marymount.ie.