THIS year marks the 40th anniversary of hospice care at Milford Care Centre in Limerick, pioneered by the Little Company of Mary (LCM) Order, which is celebrating its 140th anniversary.
Both milestones are recorded in a newly-published book, A Journey of Hope, written by Lahinch woman Sr Brigid Finucane, one of the three pioneering sisters, who worked in the original hospice in Milford in 1964.
The book chronicles the history of the order, including Mary Potter’s radical social and caring work in difficult economic circumstances in 19th-century Victorian Britain. It also records the order’s arrival in Ireland to St John’s Hospital, Limerick, in 1888.
“Its publication was partly prompted by the many enquiries received from the public over the years about the history and heritage of Milford House,” explained Sr Brigid, who is now mission coordinator at Milford Care Centre.
Founded by the Venerable Mary Potter in a disused stocking factory in Hyson Green, Nottingham, England in 1877, the LCM Order first provided hospice care for people with life-limiting conditions in the Mid-West Region in 1977.
The book records how, in 1923, the sisters purchased the Georgian Milford House at Castletroy, near Limerick, and established a novitiate there. Space was allocated in the building for nursing home beds five years later.
Responding to the changing care needs of the wider community, in 1977 LCM Sisters set aside nine beds at Milford House specifically for hospice care, in what was a highly progressive move in Irish healthcare at the time.
Milford Hospice has undertaken a number of expansions since then, with the provision of a range of inpatient and day care services at standalone premises at Milford. Extensive hospice-at-home and other community palliative care services throughout the Mid-West were also added by Milford Care Centre, as well as expanded nursing home facilities in Milford.
A Journey of Hope also highlights how, coinciding with Milford Hospice’s 40th anniversary, a major development project is now at an advanced stage, involving the provision of a new purpose-built 34-bed hospice to serve Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary and the expansion of the existing nursing home from 47 beds to a 68-bed unit.
Both of these facilities, on completion, will feature enhanced facilities for patients, relatives and staff, including all single-occupancy rooms for both patients and residents.
The publication also sets out to acknowledge the selfless contribution made by the many LCM Sisters and Milford Care Centre personnel, led by chief executive Pat Quinlan, down through the decades. It is also a tribute to the patients and residents of Milford and their families, and the many volunteers, fundraisers, benefactors, associates and other agencies, who have given wonderful support.
Sr Brigid’s book was produced with editorial assistance from Colman Garrihy and a foreword to the publication was written by Dr Matthew Potter, curator, Limerick Museum, who formally launched the publication.
The book also outlines the rich heritage of Milford House, including details of the three prominent Limerick families previously associated with the building – the Maunsells, who built it; the Dowager Lady Massy, who lived there for many years; and the Russells, who sold the building to LCM in 1923.
A Journey of Hope will be available at Milford Care Centre and in the Hospice Shop in Thomas Street, Limerick.
All proceeds generated from this publication will form part of the fundraising income to support the work of Milford Hospice in 2018.