‘Great day’ as new 8-bed Roscommon Hospice opened

CEO of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation Martina Jennings, Mike Smith (Chair Of MRHF) with Minister of State Frank Feighan and Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, officially launched the new Roscommon Palliative Care Unit on the Athlone Road in Roscommon. It comes two years after the opening of Mayo Hospice in Castlebar. Pic: Michael Mc Laughlin

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly pledged full funding for the operation and staffing of the new 8-bed Roscommon Hospice at the official opening on Friday last.

  The Roscommon Hospice, built at a cost of €6.3 million, is now fully paid for and was delivered under budget.

  Addressing Friday’s launch, Minister Donnelly said it was a great day for everyone involved and paid tribute to Mayo-Roscommon Hospice Foundation CEO Martina Jennings and Chairperson Mike Smith.

  “Thank you for everything you have done and to all our contributors. I’m really struck by an immense pride in the room and in everyone I’ve spoken to today about why we’re all here. It’s a culmination of decades of work,” he said.

  “I think it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the extraordinary achievements of the Mayo-Roscommon Hospice Foundation through the support of staff, volunteers, and the support of the community in Roscommon. I’d also like to acknowledge the critical contributions of two of the founding directors, Dr. Bert Farrell and John Tully, who sadly passed away in recent years”.

  Minister Donnelly paid tribute to the “extraordinary community and wonderful people of Roscommon” for their contribution.

  He said the building was testament to the community and the goodwill of the people in the county.

  “I am delighted to be able to state officially that we are allocating full funding in the Budget and in the National Service Plan for the opening and full staffing for this Hospice,” Minister Donnelly announced to loud applause. 

  Speaking at Friday’s launch, Mayo-Roscommon Hospice CEO, Martina Jennings, said the Minister’s announcement was worth waiting for after the initial opening date was put back by four weeks.

  She said the funding announcement meant the Foundation could now implement its five-year strategic plan next February.

  Paying tribute to all those who had made donations, Ms. Jennings said: “They’ve fundraised €15.5 million to build two Hospices. It is phenomenal to have this open within 18 months”.

  Ms. Jennings said there had been some “worrying times”, particularly in March and April of this year when the Foundation feared they would require a loan to finish the construction.

  “Our shops reopened and communities got behind us, particularly from May to September,” she said.

  Chairperson of Mayo-Roscommon Hospice, Mike Smith, paid tribute to all those involved in fundraising and the construction of the Hospice as well as palliative care teams. 

  He said Friday was a proud day for the Foundation and paid a special tribute to late Castlerea man, John Tully, one of its founding members.

  In a video message, US President Joe Biden said he hoped those who used the facility would find peace there.

  Referring to a family visit to Ireland in 2016 in the wake of his son Beau’s death, the President said: “Beau’s name is etched into the tapestry of the Mayo Hospice and that is something my family and I, and his children in particular will never, ever forget”.

  Local Minister of State Frank Feighan paid tribute to former Hospice CEO Cynthia Clampett and said the Roscommon Palliative Care Support Unit was representative of the “many years of positive engagement between voluntary and public sectors”.

  “It shows how powerful the community spirit and altruism, that dwells within our rural community here, are. Everyone involved should be especially proud of their achievement in getting this care support unit up and running,” he said. 

  Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, Cllr. Joe Murphy, said the new facility is completed to a very high standard and testament to the people of Roscommon and Mayo coming together.

  He added everyone had been impacted in some way by illness and that the new Hospice would allow families to spend time with loved ones. 

  Last Friday’s event commenced with a performance by well-known singer, Tommy Fleming, who sang ‘Bright Blue Rose’ and ‘I’m Watching Over You’.