The Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD has unveiled a memorial plaque on the site of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Castlebar in memory of the people who lived and now rest on the site of the hospital.
The dedicated plaque has been erected in honour of the people who are laid to rest on the site from the time of the Famine up to as recently as the 1950s.
Padraic Carolan, Senior Administration Officer, HSE Mayo and Chair of the organising committee, explained: “We thought it would be appropriate and a sign of respect to erect a memorial plaque on the site of the Sacred Heart Hospital where people could come and remember and acknowledge those people who have lived and are now buried here.
“It is a place where people can come to pay their respects and remember those who have gone before.”
The wording on the memorial plaque is from a poem written by Belfast-born poet Derek Mahon entitled “Kinsale”, and was selected to symbolize going from darkness into light.
The Sacred Heart Hospital operated as a Workhouse from 1842 until 1921, and from 1921 until 1973 the building was known as the County Home.
In 1973 the current building was opened as the Sacred Heart Hospital.
Sacred Heart Hospital today
The Sacred Heart Hospital currently provides accommodation for up to 77 long-stay residents, mainly over 65 years of age, and also can facilitate up to 36 rehab patients.
Residents with dementia acquired brain injury and intellectual care needs are also accommodated in the hospital. There is also a busy day-care service with separate facilities, along with Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Social Work departments.
A separate rehabilitation unit is located in the centre and admits patients from the acute services for rehabilitative care back into the community.
Recently, approval has been given for the refurbishment and extension of three long-stay wards which will increase the continuing care bed complement to 85. The rehab ward refurbishment is also included in this Capital Programme.
Approval has been given to progress the planning and design of this project this year, and the approved capital budget for the project is €11m. The purpose of this development is to ensure that the facility is HIQA compliant at the time of the next application for certification which is due in 2015.
Wording on the memorial plaque:
The kind of rain we knew is a thing of the past –
deep-delving, dark, deliberate you would say,
browsing on spire and bogland; but today
our sky-blue slates are steaming in the sun,
our yachts tinkling and dancing in the bay
like race-horses. We contemplate at last
shining windows, a future forbidden to no-one.
Derek Mahon (born Belfast 1941)