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Children grieve too…so what can you do?

Posted on: March 29th, 2019


Elaine Clothworthy was just two years old when her father, Alastair, died of lung cancer in 1990. His passing left a big gap in her life which still remains.

“It’s like an open window with the wind coming in,” says Elaine. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, that wind is always there.”

While Elaine doesn’t remember her father, she feels she knows him because her mother kept his memory alive during her childhood.
“His artwork and photographs were all around the house. She spoke about him a lot, telling stories about holidays we had.”

Elaine’s feelings of loss were magnified during big moments in her life, such as school plays and graduations.

“When you’re a child, and you see everybody else with two parents, it can be hard to comprehend. When asked about him, I remember thinking do I lie because it’s easier. People just assume you have two parents.”

Having worked as a primary teacher, Elaine now lectures aspiring teachers at Marino Institute of Education. She recently attended a course run by the Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN) on how grieving children should be supported. This will be part of teacher training at Marino going forward.

“If teachers don’t have the specific skills around childhood bereavement it can be very difficult. Death is an alien to a child’s world, so when it happens it’s confusing for them. The ICBN has given me the skills to help teachers talk about death – not just with the child, but also with classmates – so that they’re able to engage with the grieving child.”

“When children suffer loss, school is the one thing in their lives that doesn’t change. Teachers need to create a ‘normal’ space where the child can switch off from what is going on at home, and just live life.”

Elaine feels she would have found her loss easier had such external supports existed when she was a child.
“I found it difficult to talk about. I wouldn’t bring it up in conversation with my peers.”

“In a classroom, grief isn’t simply a child crying. It manifests itself in so many ways. Openness is so important. It’s ok to talk about it; it’s ok to cry and grieve. Teachers need skills to support these children at such a vulnerable time in their life.”

Help us reach more grieving children by making a gift today


Posted on: July 10th, 2018

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2018 Summer Raffle. The draw took place on Monday, 9th July in our offices:


  • 1st Prize – €3000:

    M. McManus, Co. Cavan

  • 2nd Prize – €1,000:

    S. Fitzpatrick, Co. Offaly

  • 3rd Prize – Weekend Break at the Marker Hotel, Dublin sponsored by The Marker Hotel:

    E & F Gleeson, Dublin 16

  • Sellers Prize – €500 M&S Voucher sponsored by Marks & Spencer:

    B. Murtagh, Co. Dublin


Congratulations to all the lucky winners and a huge thanks to all our wonderful supporters who got involved selling Raffle tickets on our behalf and to all those who very generously bought them. Your support will help us fund our Nurses for Night Care Service. Thank you!

Head of Fundraising, IHF, Helen McVeigh with Garda Shane Corby at the 2018 IHF Raffle

Garda Shane Corby with the winning ticket

Garda Shane Corby pulling the winning ticket at the 2018 IHF Raffle

Welcoming new Palliative Care Framework

Posted on: November 17th, 2017

The Irish Hospice Foundation has warmly welcomed a new framework which informs the development of Irish adult palliative care services for the next 3 years.

Seamless Care Pathway

The aim is to ensure a seamless care pathway across inpatient, homecare, nursing home, acute hospital and day care services. It recommends that specialist palliative care services should be available to all patients in need, wherever they are, and whatever their disease.

Proposes targeted investment to develop service provision over 3 year timeframe and align service levels as recommended in the ‘Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care’ (2001).

Irish Hospice Foundation CEO Sharon Foley welcomed the new framework and is looking forward to working in unison with all bodies to ensure specialist palliative care services is available to all patients in need, wherever they are, and whatever their disease.

Palliative Care Services Development Framework Launch 730/3

In the picture: John Hennessy, HSE National Director for Primary Care, Minister for Health Simon Harris, Sheilagh Reaper-Reynolds, HSE National Lead for Palliative Care

The HSE has launched ‘Palliative Care Services Three Year Development Framework – 2017 to 2019’. The Framework informs the development of adult palliative care services, both generalist and specialist, in Ireland for the three-year period from 2017 – 2019. Its aim is to ensure a seamless care pathway across inpatient, homecare, nursing home, acute hospital and day care services.

Palliative care is an active and total approach to care from the point of diagnosis through to death and beyond. It embraces the physical, emotional, social and spiritual elements of care and engages with patients and families as equal decision makers in that care. The Framework being launched today aims to enhance palliative care service delivery in both community and acute hospital services, with a major focus being placed at all times on the delivery of quality person-centred, safe care for patients and their families.

Speaking at the launch Minister for Health Simon Harris said, “Palliative care is a key part of our health service and it is essential that when it comes to end of life people are treated with dignity and respect. These values must be enshrined in the quality of care which is provided to patients and their families. We must also work to ensure that palliative care services are accessible across the country and that there is an integrated pathway across in-patient, homecare, nursing home, acute hospital and day care services. As Minister for Health I welcome the publication of this important three year Framework and I am assured that my Department will continue to work closely with the HSE on the implementation of its recommendations and actions.”

Welcoming the publication, John Hennessy, HSE National Director for Primary Care said, “The focus of the Framework was to identify the gaps that exist in the current level of service provision and to present a set of recommendations and actions which over the duration of the Framework (and at times beyond) would seek to address these service issues / deficits, subject to available resources. The Framework looks at palliative care service delivery in both community and acute hospital services, with a major focus being placed at all times on the delivery of quality person-centred, safe care for patients and their families.

“A key objective for the Steering Group was to seek to improve access to palliative care services across the country, particularly in those areas which for the last number of years have been identified as inpatient service ’blackspots’.  There are clear recommendations contained in the Framework which, on implementation, will achieve this objective.”

Sheilagh Reaper-Reynolds, HSE National Lead for Palliative Care said, “This framework captures the core issues that face us in improving palliative care services for people living with life limiting illnesses and their families. Focused consultation took place with many key stakeholders, including service user representative bodies and organisations, healthcare staff and management. This feedback enables us to plan together the development of palliative care services in a much more effective way that is going to meet the needs of our changing population”.

The Framework recommends that specialist palliative care services should be available to all patients in need, wherever they are and whatever their disease. It highlights that there are still areas of the country without an inpatient unit, most notably in the Midlands, the South East, and the North East. Other areas do not have the recommended bed complement and/or the recommended staffing levels. In addressing these shortcomings, the Framework sets out recommendations to ensure that by 2021, there will be equitable access to specialist inpatient palliative care services throughout the country.

It notes that full access to palliative care services for patients with non-malignant disease is now the norm in the sector, with service providers accepting referrals based on need rather than condition. While the work of making palliative care available to patients with non-cancer conditions must continue, attention should now also extend to the needs of vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities, migrants, and prisoners.

The Framework states that by investing in properly resourced community services to care for patients with both malignant and non-malignant diseases, particularly in the last three months of life, this leads to reduced inappropriate hospital admissions, more appropriate care pathways and improved experience for patients and their families.

The Framework complements and builds on the government’s palliative care services policy document ‘Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care’, published in 2001. It proposes targeted investment to develop palliative care service provision over its timeframe and align service levels with those recommended in the 2001 Report.

Download the report.

Welcoming Charity VAT Compensation Scheme in Budget 2018

Posted on: October 10th, 2017

The Irish Hospice Foundation has warmly welcomed the news in Budget 2018 that a Charity VAT Compensation Scheme will be introduced. This follows strong campaigning by the Irish Hospice Foundation to help ease the burden on hospices nationwide.

The Charities VAT Compensation Scheme announced today will take effect from 1 January 2018 but will be paid one year in arrears i.e. in 2019 charities will be able to reclaim some element of the VAT costs arising in 2018. Charities will be entitled to a refund of a proportion of their VAT costs based on the level of non-public funding they receive.

The scheme, including the amount provided in the fund, will be subject to review after three years. Claims under the scheme cannot be made until 2019 as it will take some time for the Revenue to establish IT and administrative systems.

Below is the essence of our campaigning and an article we wrote previous to the Budget:

Reducing the Burden on Charities

Payment of VAT is a serious burden for hospices nationally, especially those where a capital build is planned, explains The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF).

Capital builds are underway or planned in Dublin – North and South, Limerick, Galway, Mayo/Roscommon, Wicklow and Waterford, with long term plans for the Midlands, Drogheda and Cavan. It is current government policy that the capital costs of hospice units are funded from charitable sources – and to date voluntary hospice groups have funded the building of these vital facilities.

IHF CEO Sharon Foley said: “The requirement to pay VAT on build and fit-out expenditures adds a huge burden to hospices and increases their fundraising challenges – already strained in the current climate. As an example, if a capital build costs €11m – 13% of this represents VAT – a staggering €126,500 for each hospice.  In addition the fit-out of each unit might cost €2m, so VAT will represent an additional €37,000 for the hospice. These costs should not be necessary for hospices and other such charities reliant on charitable fundraising from the public.

The IHF feels the effects of the imposition of VAT on charities. In many cases the VAT payments far exceed any Exchequer support given through the Government Charitable Donation Scheme and resulting in an annual net loss.”

The IHF is a member of Charities Institute Ireland (Cii) which has been campaigning for measures to reduce the burden of VAT on charities and has participated, with Finance and Revenue officials, on a Working Group set up by then Finance Minister Noonan in 2015 to look into the issue.

“The Working Group Report confirmed that there are no legal obstacles to the introduction of a VAT Compensation Scheme in Ireland. In his Budget 2017 speech, Minister Noonan said that he had asked his officials to engage again with Cii with a view to reviewing the options. Earlier this year Cii provided his officials with a comprehensive updated report on the impact of VAT on charities in Ireland.”

Political Support

From cross party discussions in recent weeks, Cii believes that there is significant political support across the Oireachtas for a VAT Compensation Scheme as envisaged by the Working Group.

“We hope that Budget 2018 will finally recognise the inequity, in a modern and progressive society, of levying a tax (VAT) on regulated and focused organisations dedicated to meeting the needs of our most vulnerable.

As we now approach Budget 2018, we are asking Government to bring this issue to a positive resolution and support the Irish Hospice Foundation and the voluntary hospice movement in removing the burden of VAT on charities,” concluded Ms Foley.

History of Hospice RTE’s Mary Kennedy launches digital archive capturing 30 years of Irish Hospice Foundation

Posted on: February 20th, 2017

RTE’s Mary Kennedy launches digital archive capturing 30 years of Irish Hospice Foundation

Mother Teresa, Bono, Maeve Binchy, Gabriel Byrne, Seamus Heaney, Pat Kenny, Miriam O’Callaghan, Marian Finucane feature in our online archive –  archives.hospicefoundation.ie

The archive was launched in tandem with our impact report ‘Our Impact 1986-2016’ outlining 30 years of achievements.

(LtoR) IHF Board Chair Jean McKiernan, Denis Doherty board member & broadcaster Mary Kennedy Holly Cooper digital archive assistant IHF guiding Janice Redmond, Gerardine Montgomery and Patrick Ussher Jnr through archive

HUNDREDS of previously unpublished documents including letters from Mother Teresa about a hospice for AIDS patients are included in an online archive documenting 30 years of the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF), .

People can access the free online resource and browse through collections which feature some of the best known names from the world of music, poetry, literature, broadcasting and politics who have supported the IHF over three decades. There are 2,000 items in the online archive created to mark the 30th anniversary of the IHF.

Mary Kennedy launched the archive in the Royal Irish Academy, saying: “This archive spans three decades of the IHF since it’s foundation in 1986 and features some very familiar names that have supported the hospice movement. It maps the history of the hospice including ground breaking IHF programmes like Hospice Friendly Hospitals and Nurses for Night Care, innovative fundraising projects like the Whoseday Book and their pioneering research.

It brings items that were hidden to light in an easy accessible format. If you’ve been involved with the IHF you may well find your image or name mentioned in the archive. The archive will evolve and update so if you have items of interest then contact the IHF to have them included.”

The free online resource contains over 75 Collections, 1070 images, 223 text files, 66 videos and 20 audio recordings at present.


Items at archives.hospicefoundation.ie include:

  • TK Whitaker’s speech and photos from IHF launch in 1986
  • Original photograph of Seamus Heaney’s hands by photographer Perry Ogden with notes for cover of the Whoseday Book – a Unique Diary for the Millennium. The book in aid of the IHF had 366 contributors including poets, filmmakers and song writers.
  • Correspondence between Dr Mary Redmond & Mother Teresa
  • Correspondence relating to the preparation of the Whoseday book including draft sketches and letters for the final publication valued at £550,000 in 2000. The collection was bought by Bank of Ireland and was donated to the National Library.
  • A unique design agency sketch giving layout of the Peter and the Wolf book which was illustrated by Bono in aid of the IHF.
  • The original letter from Dr Mary Redmond to Sr Frances Rose O’Flynn of Our Lady’s Hospice Harold’s Cross in 1985 recounting how the death of her father highlighted the importance of hospice care for terminally ill patients and their families.
  • A meeting memorandum between Dr Redmond and Dame Cicely Saunders – founder of the modern hospice movement – in February 9th

Laura Rooney Ferris, IHF Information and Library Manager and archive creator said: “Often after a death, the first thing we do is open family albums or boxes in the attic to bring back memories of a lost loved one. At the IHF we’ve spent three decades supporting people at end of life so the occasion of our 30th anniversary was a time to pause and gather on our own memories.

In creating this digital archive we are publically sharing our family album. We are incredibly grateful to Mary Redmond’s family for this large collection of her personal papers and documents, and also to former board and staff members and people involved throughout the 30 years who kindly contributed. We’re calling on members of the public to share their photographs, memorabilia and items related to the IHF projects for addition.”

Denis Doherty, IHF’s longest serving board member said: “A look back at the RTE documentary ‘Today Tonight – A Hospice for the Dying’ in the archive shows the remarkable vision Dr Mary Redmond had in setting up the IHF. The programme, aired 30 years ago, shows death for ‘many people’ in Ireland at that time ended in severe pain and isolation. Few doctors and nurses were trained to care for the special needs of the dying, the bereaved and those in pain. There were only three named hospices; one in Cork, Dublin and Limerick. The idea of dying without pain seemed a curiosity – an alien concept.

“The work of the IHF and its supporters has changed that. The hospice movement with its concentration on quality of life, excellent symptom control and care of both the dying and their loved ones has grown from a ‘small movement’ to a national movement.”

Denis Doherty IHF board member & Justice Catherine Mc Guinness

Mr Doherty said the IHF will continue to strive for the right of every individual in Ireland to live as well as possible up to the moment of their death. “It will continue to embrace Dr Redmond’s vision that no one will face death or bereavement without the care and support they need.”

The archive was launched in tandem with the IHF’s impact report ‘Our Impact 1986-2016’ outlining 30 years of achievements.

Jean McKiernan, IHF Chairperson said: “The archive and impact report show great strides in the expansion of hospice and palliative care services. The IHF is making a difference at end-of-life in homes and across healthcare settings 24/7. None of this work has been achieved alone we work in partnership with individuals, communities and organisations across Ireland.”

For example:

  • More than 150 hospitals and nursing homes have signed up to IHF programmes to improve end-of-life care. About three thousand healthcare professionals take part in IHF education and training programmes every year.
  • The IHF’s Nurses for Night Care Service is helping 500 families annually, giving people the option to be cared for in their own homes during their final days.
  • It has invested €4.5 million in palliative care services for children since 2005.



The archive can be found at http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie

The impact report is at: http://hospicefoundation.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/IHF-Impact-Report.pdf


TK Whitaker’s speech and photos from the IHF launch in 1986 http://bit.ly/2jvmB5B

Original letter written by Dr Mary Redmond to Sr Frances Rose O’Flynn of Our Lady’s Hospice Harold’s Cross on May 6th 1985 http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/19

Correspondence between Dr Mary Redmond & Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/61  http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/1750

Memorandum of 1986 meeting between Dr Mary Redmond and Dame Cicely Saunders. Topics discussed included Our Lady’s Hospice, advances and challenges in pain management for dying patients, fundraising and research.   http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/21

Original concept sketch art for Peter and the Wolf by Zero-G studios October 2002 illustrated by Bono. http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/972

Whoseday Book Collection includes valuation of the Whoseday archive £550,000 http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/1078   & Handwritten Postcard from Christy Moore accepting invite to the book signing http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/128

Perry Ogden’s sketches over his images of Seamus Heaney’s hands for Whoseday book cover art work (original in National Library) http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/1523

RTE news report on the mass Whoseday book signing in the RDS on Sept 26th 1999 http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/1853

Dr Mary Redmond highlights lack of adequate care for terminally children in December 1986 meeting. Concern prompted ‘Cherish a Child’ fund and agreement on the need for research on the needs of terminally ill children.    http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/files/original/6fc3e176afa6f7e8b587cdaac261feba.pdf

Sr Bernadette Mc Mahon, one of the founders of St Francis Hospice, reflects on the work to establish St Francis Hospice and her memories of Mary Redmond in audio interview http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/1867

Details of IHF early days with Dr. Mary Redmond and founding of St Francis Hospice in audio interview with George Byrne, former IHF Finance Manager. http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/1705

Correspondence with Medical Schools on Bereavement, Death and Dying in curricula 1988. http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/collections/show/65

Images from IHF launch in Our Lady’s Hospice on April 21 1986 http://archives.hospicefoundation.ie/document/16

(LtoR) IHF Board Chair Jean McKiernan, Denis Doherty board member, Laura Rooney Ferris, Information Manager & Mary Kennedy (7) (LtoR) Karen Charnley head of AIIHPC, Dr Mary Devins, Orla Keegan Head of Education IHF & Breffni Mc Guinness training manager IHF

Touching tributes for Dr Mary Redmond – IHF Founder

Posted on: October 26th, 2016

“Nationally, we owe a huge debt to Mary Redmond and the Irish Hospice Foundation. Mary’s vision was to make hospice care ordinary; not in its quality but in its quantum in Ireland,” – An Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Dr Mary Redmond, 64 died on Easter Monday last year.  The corporate lawyer, academic, social entrepreneur and author founded The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) 30 years ago. Last Friday, The Irish Hospice Foundation’s Evening of Celebration and Remembrance – The Dr Mary Redmond gala Dinner – was held at the 5* Intercontinental Hotel, Dublin.

An Taoiseach, who was Guest of Honour, continued his tribute at the gala dinner: “Mary was an intellectual, an author, an artist, a legal mind, a board member, deputy governor of the Bank of Ireland and a Fellow of Cambridge.

“All the way through life you meet people who stand out and they make a mark for whatever reason. There’s something about them that makes a difference to you and that’s what I felt about Mary Redmond when I met her for the first time,” the Taoiseach said.

RTÉ Prime Time presenter Miriam O’Callaghan also paid tribute to the “extraordinary” founder of the IHF as the woman she most wanted to be like when she was a teenage girl. Miriam is an IHF ambassador and made her tribute at the gala dinner.

“I was a law student in UCD and I always remember the first day in my lectures, this exquisitely beautiful woman walked into the room. I was 16 and she was probably no more than 24 or 25. It was Mary Redmond. She was lecturing in UCD in law and she wasn’t just the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, she was the most intelligent, she was the most brilliant and at that moment, I thought; ‘I want to be like Mary Redmond.’

“I could never be that, but she was one extraordinary woman. She shaped me as a young woman, as a 16 year old.”

no fee if The Irish Hospice Foundation mentioned in caption Miriam O'Callaghan at The Irish Hospice Foundation Dr Mary Redmond gala dinner held at the InterContinental Hotel Ballsbridge-photo Kieran Harnett Dublin, October 21, 2016 -- The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) celebrated its 30 year anniversary with a gala dinner honouring its founder Dr Mary Redmond on Friday, 21 October. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny was guest of honour for the evening of celebration and remembrance at the 5* InterContinental Hotel in Dublin’s Ballsbridge

Miriam lost her own sister Anne, aged 33 to cancer. She said:  “In a way death has touched us all. That’s why the Irish Hospice Foundation and what Mary Redmond did matters so much.”

Dr Redmond set up the IHF after the death of her father Sean at Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross in 1985. At the time there were only three hospices in Ireland and she felt strongly that hospice care should be available to all that needed it.

Dr Redmond’s son Patrick Ussher spoke to guests about his mother’s own philosophy on life and her courage at end-of-life.

“She said there were three important things in life; to love, to live and to leave a legacy.

Of these love for her father from whom this advice originally came drove her to found the Irish Hospice Foundation.”


Mr Ussher said when his mother was diagnosed “with a form of cancer that carried a very short life expectancy she made a very courageous decision, to surrender her fears to God and to live.”

He added: “Everyone has their own way of dealing with terminal illness and these must be respected.  But hers was to give the illness no time, to give it no power or control over her in any way. She did not discuss it with others, and she was determined to be something much more than a diagnosis and this was a decision that took enormous bravery.”

Mr Ussher  said she focused her energies instead on doing things that were meaningful to her like spending time with her family and friends, writing books and deepening her faith.”

no fee if The Irish Hospice Foundation mentioned in caption Jayne McKenna and Caolan Brady at The Irish Hospice Foundation Dr Mary Redmond gala dinner held at the InterContinental Hotel Ballsbridge-photo Kieran Harnett Dublin, October 21, 2016 -- The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) celebrated its 30 year anniversary with a gala dinner honouring its founder Dr Mary Redmond on Friday, 21 October. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny was guest of honour for the evening of celebration and remembrance at the 5* InterContinental Hotel in Dublin’s Ballsbridge

Mr Ussher added: “Nearly every day without fail she would spend an hour in silent meditation. This practice gave her an internal strength but also a simple spirit of joy in the sheer fact of being alive. I could see the resolution develop in her that no matter how hard life was both physically and emotionally being alive was nevertheless worth every second. She would often say every moment is so precious.”

IHF chairperson Jean McKiernan said the organisation remains “loyal” to Dr Redmond’s vision and strives for the best care at end of life for everyone.

Dr Redmond began teaching law at University College Dublin at 19 years old. She also studied at Oxford and obtained her Ph.D at Cambridge. She went on to become Fellow and Dean of Studies in Law at Christ’s College Cambridge and was elected an Honorary Fellow. She became the leading academic on Irish labour law and published extensively. She set up her own firm in the mid 1980s in Ireland and subsequently merged her firm with Arthur Cox. She sat on the board of the RTE Authority and served consecutive terms on the Labour Relations Commission.


Westmeath People Give End of Life View at Death Café Conversation

Posted on: October 7th, 2016

Westmeath people turned out in force at Annebrook House Hotel Mullingar to speak out about dying, death and bereavement

The Death Café Conversation was organised by The Irish Hospice Foundation as part of their ‘Have Your Say’ national campaign and all feedback from the café will inform the first ever ‘Irish Charter on Dying, Death & Bereavement 2016’.

Sharon Foley, CEO of The Irish Hospice Foundation was in Mullingar to meet with people and talk about the importance of this campaign. “The café conversation revealed amazing insights into what is priority at end of life and Mullingar surely had their say. Huge thanks to the warm crowd for giving such personal and valuable insights.

It really sparked conversations about end of life such as who will mind the dog when I’m gone, can I donate my body, we need a Last Aid Course to equip us to deal with dying, death and bereavement and it’s easier to talk to about other people’s death rather than your own.

There was a also resonating call for more bereavement services in Mullingar and it was clear that people want to talk openly about death to normalise this life happening.

Veronica Larkin of North Westmeath Hospice spoke after the event: “The members of North Westmeath Hospice Fundraising Committee were delighted to have the teams for Milford Limerick and from the National Hospice visit. The feedback from those who took part was so very positive. Participants enjoyed the structured manner in which the event was run while at all times having the freedom to have their say. Thanks also to The Annabrook House Hotel for their attention to detail.”

“People also completed the Have your Say survey on the day and all feedback will inform our ‘Irish Charter on Dying, Death & Bereavement 2016’ published next year. Anyone can complete the survey online https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/haveyoursayirl and follow the social media movement #haveyoursayirl,” continued CEO Sharon.

veronica-larkinEvery day 80 people die in Ireland; that’s 29,000 people every year. Each of us will only get once chance to die, so it’s important to think about what matters to you. We believe best care at end of life is about supporting everyone to live well to the end with dignity and comfort, surrounded by loved ones.

“We want you to #haveyoursayirl based on your experiences, knowledge, hopes and fears. We can then be informed on how to further ensure the best supports are in place for you and your loved ones. We are pleased to be leading such an important public discussion and creating this essential charter for the Irish people,” concluded Sharon.

The Irish Hospice Foundation is partnered with Limerick Compassionate Communities (part of Milford Hospice) in the project; and working with the support of Dublin City, Fingal and South County Dublin County Councils.

Photo: Pictured at the Mullingar Death Café is Veronica Larkin of North Westmeath Hospice

‘The God Box: A Daughter’s Story’ Irish Tour Oct 13th – 30th

Posted on: September 30th, 2016

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to call your mother!

 Inspiring one-woman play exploring the unique relationship between mothers and daughters to tour Ireland

 All proceeds to benefit local hospices through The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF)

Best-selling American author and renowned businesswoman, Mary Lou Quinlan, is bringing her emotional, one-woman hit play “The God Box: A Daughter’s Story” to Ireland to raise funds for local hospice groups.

Based on her powerful New York Times bestselling memoir of the same name, Quinlan  – recently named as one of Irish America Magazine’s Power 50 Women – shares her personal story of a family in love, in loss and in triumph.

This comic and heart wrenching play tells how after her mother’s death Mary Lou discovered “God Boxes”, small containers stuffed with hundreds of tiny notes, sharing her mother’s innermost thoughts. They revealed her concerns about her kids’ demanding careers, to private wishes for people she’d never even met, to concerns about her own health and everything in between.

The poignant notes, scribbled in supermarket queues, restaurants, and at the kitchen table, were her mother’s way of releasing life’s worries and hopes. The discovery of the boxes triggered Mary Lou’s own unraveling, a journey to confront the greatest human challenge – learning to let go.

Co-written with Martha Wollner, an award-winning actor/playwright and director of NYC’s LAByrinth Theatre, the play has been presented in theatres across the US, including a sell out Off-Broadway run. In 2014 it enjoyed a 24-night run to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  Previews in Limerick and Dun Laoghaire in 2015, and recently in Belfast, drew warm Irish receptions to this personal family story.

Quinlan has donated all proceeds to hospice, cancer care and education. To date she has raised nearly $400,000.

Mary Lou Quinlan is a remarkable woman. A hugely successful entrepreneur, she is widely known in the US for her marketing company, Just Ask a Woman, and as an adviser to over 100 blue chip companies on marketing to women. She was formerly CEO of a large NYC ad agency and has written four books and numerous national magazine articles in the US where she has addressed hundreds of conferences on women’s issues.

She was a judge on Simon Cowell’s show, American Inventor, in which people went before a panel to decide if their invention had what it takes.

All proceeds of the 2016 Irish tour will benefit local hospices through The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF), a national charity striving for best care at end of life for all, and which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  Funds raised will support the IHF’s programme to support the voluntary hospice movement all across Ireland.

Irish Hospice Foundation CEO Sharon Foley said: “The Irish Hospice Foundation is delighted to bring The God Box Tour to Ireland in aid of all local hospice groups. Every year we coordinate two national campaigns on behalf of local hospice groups and all funds from this exciting tour go to that fund”.

Mary Lou Quinlan said: “The tender care of hospice meant so much at the most critical days of my family’s life. Sharing my mother’s story is a way I can give back and raise awareness for this cause in Ireland, the land of Mom’s ancestors and a treasured place to me and my husband Joe.”

Dates and Venues

The God Box will perform in nine venues throughout Ireland in October. All shows start at 8 p.m. 


  • Oct 13th Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, dunamaise.ie (057) 8663355
  • Oct 14th The Everyman, Cork, everymancork.com (021) 450 1673
  • Oct 15th Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny watergatetheatre.com (056) 776 1674
  • Oct 21st Siamsa Tire, Tralee siamsatire.com (066) 712 3055
  • Oct 22nd Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick limetreetheatre.ie (061) 953400
  • Oct 27th Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo hawkswell.com (071) 916 1518
  • Oct 28th Roscommon Arts Centre, roscommonartscentre.ie (090) 6625824
  • Oct 29th Backstage Theatre, Longford backstage.ie (043) 334 7888
  • Oct 30th Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire paviliontheatre.ie (01) 231 2929

See www.thegodboxproject.com for full venue details.


“Invigoration of human spirit – hospice is a gift to families” – Ambassador Brendan Gleeson

Posted on: September 12th, 2016


Ireland’s Biggest Coffee Morning Ambassador and renowned actor Brendan Gleeson gave a powerful interview on Marian Finucane’s RTE Radio 1 show last Saturday about the touching difference hospice care has made in his life.

Speaking to Marian, Brendan said: “It reawakened my faith in humanity. It’s magical the way death is embraced as a part of life. The hospice just embraces death in that way and gives people the finest death possible. And the gift that they allow the people around, families – there’s a beauty about it that is exquisite.

“My mother and my father both ended their lives there [in St Francis Hospice, Raheny] and I’m so grateful for that. I don’t know how to express it properly how a good death is so life-affirming. It’s incredible the gift that it is,” said Brendan.

The Irish actor also praised hospice staff nationwide for the life-changing help they give to patients and their loved ones.

You can Listen back to the show HERE >>> 

Brendan will also be on Pat Kenny’s show on Tuesday 13th at 11.15am. Thank you to Brendan and all Ambassadors who are supporting Ireland’s Biggest Coffee Morning for Hospice this Thursday.


In A Word…Hospice – Irish Times article

Posted on: September 11th, 2016

patsy-mcgarry-editedArticle by Patsy McGarry

You might say we are in recovery. Sort of. Optimism ruled most of us for the eight months that passed between my brother Pearse’s diagnosis with lung cancer and his death on July 20th last. Family members with medical knowledge were always less so. Those of us who were informed grew to cherish our ignorance as time passed, even as the evidence ground out its own grim truth. It was not so much denial as a gamble on hope.

Pearse was just 60 and the first of us siblings to die. In a large family blessed with health, his cancer came so out of left field. We had never known serious illness, none of us. Where we, his wife, children and grandchildren, our mother have been concerned, it caught all our hearts off guard and blew them open – to paraphrase Seamus Heaney.

But we remain so, so grateful. To consultant Sylvia Blascova, the oncology team and nursing staff at Galway University hospital, to consultant Ollie McAnena and nurse Terry Gallagher there too; to Dr Cathryn Bogan consultant in palliative medicine at Sligo University hospital where Pearse died, and the astounding nursing staff at its oncology unit.

They have a room there where family members can stay as we did over those last long days and nights of Pearse’s dying.

I do not know how the people at either hospital can remain so extraordinarily consistent in their compassion as they deal with death, the dying and the soon-to-be-bereaved day in, day out. It takes special and rare human beings. For they are all of that.

Next Thursday all can assist them and people like them by taking part in Ireland’s biggest coffee morning to raise funds for hospice services throughout the country.

Organised by the Irish Hospice Foundation, at hospicefoundation.ie or 01-679 3188, all proceeds go to a hospice service in your area. It stays local – but you might remember the oncology unit in Galway and Shout, the Sligo Hospital Oncology Unit Trust.

It is a vain hope that none of us will ever need a hospice service. Statistics indicate otherwise.Regardless, these wonderful people deserve all the support we can give them in making life less painful for the dying and the soon-to-be-at-a-loss. Hospice from medieval French hospice, itself from the Latinhospitium, meaning “guest house, hospitality”. inaword@irishtimes.com