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Joe Giddens/PA
end of life care

Remote hospice service 'vital' as islanders don't want to die on mainland, says fundraiser

Catherine Mulkerrin says hospice services help dying people deal with the final stages of their life.

AN ARAN NATIVE who has been fundraising for more than 20 years for end-of-life care on the islands has said many local people do not want to die on the mainland.

Catherine Mulkerrin, who lives on Inis Mór, said remote services provided by Galway Hospice are “vital” for islanders receiving palliative care who want to die at home.

“The hospice has always been important to us because many people don’t want to die on the mainland,” Mulkerrin told the PA news agency.

“I see nurses regularly landing here on the island in the morning by plane to attend to someone who is dying.”

The 52-year-old mother-of-one is in the process of organising coffee to be flown to the remote west of Ireland island ahead of her annual charity event for Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social on 22 September.

She is calling on people across the country to host similar coffee mornings on a date that suits them to raise funds for hospices in their local area.

Registration is open for anyone wanting to host a coffee morning.

The hospice fundraiser is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

The money raised goes to the Together for Hospice organisation to help pay for medical and general staff, palliative care beds, home care visits, specialist equipment and new hospices.

The funds raised locally stay in the area.

The organisation is hoping to raise €1.5 million through the charity appeal this year.

More than €41 million has been raised for local hospices and palliative homecare services since the first coffee morning in 1992.

“Often people think of a hospice as a sad, dark place where people go to die, but it is a very lively and positive place with a multitude of services for those at all stages of illness, and their families,” she said.

“You don’t feel in any way that you are intruding. It’s so peaceful but if you want to die at home on the island and if it is possible, the hospice services will make it happen.

“Residents of an island can sometimes feel isolated, so it’s terrific that they are doing their bit (by attending a coffee morning) to make sure that the hospice services can be accessed here.”

Mulkerrin said one elderly woman on the island did not often leave her house but always used to turn up for the coffee morning.

“When her niece drove her here after the shopping, her eyes lit up,” she said.

“The poor woman died of cancer since, but her niece still comes here each year and donates money in her memory and that’s what the coffee morning is about.

“A dying person is on a lonely journey but the hospice makes them feel like someone is with them every step of the way.”

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