Five years after it was founded, Gort Cancer Support celebrated the official opening of its new centre in Garrabeg, Gort.
Chairwoman of the organisation Mary Fennessy opened proceedings. She recalled the simple beginnings of Gort Cancer Support with its goal “to support people who have been affected by the impact of a cancer diagnosis”.
“Being diagnosed with cancer tends to generate many emotions and feelings. Managing these feelings and promoting coping generally can help to engender a sense of empowerment, promote relaxation and enhance healing,” she stated.
In her role as chairwoman Ms Fennessy acknowledged the foresight and vision of a number of people and highlighted in particular Sadie McInerney, Anne Quinn and Dairin Coen who decided to set up the centre in June 2007. Many others have since contributed, she noted, to making the charity a success including individuals, businesses, other organisations, community groups and charities.
“The most significant of these was an enormously generous offer from Jean and Pat Collins, a couple who live overseas but who have had close ties with the Gort area for many years. They provided the cost of purchasing and renovating the new premises. On behalf of all the volunteers, committee and directors and all of the people of Gort and surrounding areas we wish to express our enormous gratitude to Jean and Pat for their kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness,” Ms Fennessy added.
In making this contribution Mr and Mrs Collins requested that the building be dedicated to the memory of their lifelong friend, Gort man Joseph McInerney. Mr McInerney was well known in the town and was a respected auctioneer with a premises on Church Street.
Gort Cancer Support volunteer Tina Earley read out a letter from the Collins family, who were unable to attend. Paul Collins, vice-chairperson of Gort Cancer Support, paid a short tribute to Josie McInerney and unveiled the plaque dedicated to him.
Ms Fennessy paid tribute to the hard work of the Gort Cancer Support committee.
“Clearly today’s ceremony marks the culmination of a long process and thanks to all who have made this possible. The past few months have been an extremely busy time for the committee and I wish to acknowledge their hard work, dedication, commitment, attendance at meetings, fantastic ideas and input generally and at all times their efforts to focus on and take each decision back to what would most likely be of benefit to those who need to use the centre,” she stated.
Ms Fennessy also acknowledged the workmen and women and tradesmen who contributed to making their vision for this house a reality whom she stated at all times acted professionally and with extreme generosity, courtesy and to a high standard. Furthermore, many individuals, businesses and other local organisations contributed to making this a success.
Ms Fennessy also paid tribute to the hard work, commitment and flexibility demonstrated by all of the volunteers.
“Most certainly this service would not be possible without their input. All of our listeners are trained in communication skills, listening skills, self care and issues such as confidentiality. All of our volunteers are equally valued regardless of their role, be they the drivers, fundraisers and so on,” she continued.
Justin McDermott of the Irish Cancer Society praised the efforts of Gort Cancer Support. He highlighted the importance of local cancer support services and stated that Gort Cancer Support had recently affiliated with the Irish Cancer Society.
Mary Fennessy introduced another volunteer at the centre, Sr Maura Crowe who read a moving reflection from John O Donoghue.
“Our centre is about the people who use it. In as far as possible we try to promote a relaxing, homely, warm and safe environment,” she added.
Anne McInerney, a good friend of the Pat and Jean Collins, then lit a candle to symbolise all that is positive in people’s lives.
“Cancer treatment and management has moved forward and expanded beyond our expectations and many people are now living full, healthy positive lives with cancer. They have chosen not to permit cancer to define them, instead they are taking control and endeavouring to manage their health, emotions and their psychological needs and in doing so enhance their sense of wellbeing. Supporting people to achieve these goals is a large aspect of the philosophy of Gort Cancer Support and cancer support centres generally,” Ms Fennessy concluded.
Finally, founders of the charity and current committee members Anne Quinn and Sadie McInerney cut the ribbon and Fr Gearóid Ó’Griofa performed a blessing of the premises.
Anyone looking for further information on the services provided by Gort Cancer Support can call 086 172 4500. The Irish Cancer Society’s cancer helpline can be contacted on 1800 200 700.