Mount Carmel History

Extracts from the Parish Booklet published for the 25th Anniversary in 1982

The Little Company of Mary was founded by Mother Mary Potter in the year 1877. Mother Mary envisaged a great need in the Church for a group of women who would commit their lives totally to Christ, in union with Mary on Calvary making constant intercession for the dying, especially those souls most in need of God’s mercy. This great spiritual zeal over-flowed into action and brought forth the birth of a Congregation to care for and nurse the sick and dying. At this time too a great humanitarian movement effected reforms in nursing and hospital services. While Mary Potter rejoiced at this she felt that soul as well as bodies should be the concern of those who cared for and nursed the sick and dying.

The Sisters of the Little Company of Mary honour in a special way the Mystery of Calvary. Their special spirit is the imitation of the Maternal Heart of Mary. Standing with Mary at the foot of the Cross on Calvary, they intercede for the sick and dying of the whole world through prayer, and, where possible, through personal attendance at home or in the hospital. From a humble beginning in a discarded factory building in the village of Hyson Green, England, The Little Company of Mary was founded. From here – the cradle of the institute – the Sisters gradually spread to many countries, established their Mother House in Rome as well as houses in Scotland, Ireland, United States, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Korea.

A visit to the Mother House in Rome by the Most Rev. John Charles McQuaid in 1949 resulted in an invitation to the Sisters to open a Hospital. About that time it became known that the Carmelite House of Studies at Rathgar was for sale. After some negotiations the latter was purchased. The Sisters were fortunate to acquire this building which stands on seven acres of beautifully wooded grounds. Needless to say, it has since undergone extensive reconstruction and renovation. The immediate locality has grown rapidly with new housing and shopping developments.

Three Sisters left Milford House, Limerick, to begin this new foundation on September 19th 1949. They were met and welcomed by Fathers McGrath and Devane, O.Carm. The help of the Carmelite Community to get the place in order was much appreciated by the Sisters. Renovations and improvements to the building got underway immediately. Central heating was installed. Meantime, some Sisters nursed patients in their own homes.

On the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, August 22nd, 1950, Mount Carmel Hospital was solemnly blessed and officially opened by His Grace, the Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, the Most Rev. Dr. John Charles McQuaid, in the presence of Archdeacon Sheehan, Terenure, and Very Rev. M. Fitzgerald, O.Carm, Provincial of the Order, as well as members of the Medical and Nursing Profession in Dublin and a large number of friends and well-wishers.

The Hospital was equipped to cater for thirty medical patients. Work started on building an Operating Theatre and an X-Ray Unit. This was completed in June 1951. Fr. Hyland, C.C. in Churchtown, was appointed Chaplain to the Hospital in November 1954.

On July 2nd, 1958, Canon O’Donnell assisted by Fathers Hyland and Hanlon blessed the site for a new Hospital. A fund-raising committee was formed who were very active during the next few years. Thanks to their hard work and dedication and generous response of the people the initial financial burden was lightened considerable. Work on the new building progressed rapidly.

The ’New’ Mount Carmel Hospital was officially blessed and opened by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. Dr. John Charles McQuaid, on October 25th 1960. The patients were transferred from the original Hospital on December 8th 1960. The latter then became the Convent. When Mount Carmel was opened the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary were the first Sisters to offer a Maternity Service in the Dublin area. Many patients were apprehensive about having their confinements taken care of by religious Sisters. Some felt they would not be given any pain relieving drugs. However, the overwhelming demand for admission by Maternity patients during those first years is a special feature of the development of Mount Carmel Hospital.

This demand has continued necessitating the extension of facilities and the allocation of a second floor as well as the roof top Unit accommodation originally intended for secretarial rooms and a christening suite. Once again building commenced and in 1969 a wing of two floors was added to the Hospital providing extra ward and single room accommodation. This in turn resulted in further extension to laundry, convent and the erection of a new building for household staff.

The area of the Apostolic work of the Sisters is of particular interest since Mother Mary Potter struggled in Rome to get Ecclesiastical permission and approval to have Sisters trained in Midwifery care. She won a long and hard battle and opened the first School of Training in Midwifery for Sisters.

Mount Carmel Hospital works in close co-operation with the Conquer Cancer Society of Ireland. Four beds are available to cater for the special needs of patients with terminal cancer. Patients are admitted as the need arises. This very pressing need is sponsored by the Society and very much appreciated by patients and their relatives.

In response to yet another request – this time to relieve the long list of patients waiting for Joint Replacement Surgery in the country, the Hospital agreed to make facilities available for this specialty. In 1976 a sterile air enclosure was installed in one of the existing Operating Theatres. An air-conditioning plant was also installed at this time. In 1980 a new Physiotherapy department was opened which contains rehabilitation and gymnastic facilities. At this time also a Consultants’ Private Clinic was opened.

The late Canon Kenny was a welcome visitor to the Hospital, and it was our privilege to care for him in his many illnesses. He was an inspiration to all the staff by his cheerful disposition and acceptance of suffering. May he rest in peace.

We welcome Fr. Patrick Fitzsimons our new Parish Priest, and wish him many happy years in Churchtown.

Sr. Brigid Canning

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