Category Archives: Articles

Bloomfield Quaker Care Centre celebrates 200 years

Over 100 people attended a special event held at Bloomfield, Stocking Lane, Dublin on 28 November 2012 to celebrate 200 years of Quakers caring for mentally ill and frail elderly people in Ireland.Friends from throughout the country were joined at the special celebration by politicians, healthcare workers and members of the local community.
 Since its foundation by Friends in 1812, Bloomfield has sought to provide person-centric mental health and nursing home care to elderly people and those with dementia. The original aim was to bring about a seminal change in the nature of care from restraint to ‘moral treatment’ and the Society proved to be pioneering in its care and treatment of both the elderly and mentally ill.
Bloomfield moved from its original Donnybrook site to its current location in Rathfarnham in 2005. In 2006 the Jewish Home of Ireland and in 2007 Kylemore Clinic (established by the MethodistChurch in Ireland) were also incorporated into Bloomfield, with the stage-2 completion in 2009 bringing the total bed count to 152.
Olivia Mitchell TD planted an oak tree in the grounds to mark the 200th anniversary before Chairman of the Board, John McNeilly (Rathfarnham Preparative Meeting), assured guests that the original mission of the founding members of the Quaker community remained at the core of everything Bloomfield does today.
CEO Damien O’Dowd then outlined how Bloomfield would respond to the needs of people with dementia and mental illness over the next few years.
Robin Goodbody (Monkstown Preparative Meeting) summarised the highlights of the 200-year history before Professor Michael Gill, Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, launched the newly-published book – ‘Bloomfield, A History 1812 – 2012’. The book, which literally arrived hot off the presses, is the result of great teamwork and painstaking research by Glynn Douglas (Monkstown Preparative Meeting), Robin Goodbody, Alice Mauger and John Davey.*
Prof Michael Gill, keynote speaker for the evening, spoke about “exciting advances” in genomic medicine and how this was being applied in psychiatry, with particular emphasis on alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy.
He said Trinity was delighted to be associated with Bloomfield: “I have visited Bloomfield on quite a few occasions and Ive been really amazed by what has been happening here. Bloomfield is an important resource for the College for teaching medical and healthcare students and for offering research opportunities and we look forward to continuing our relationship into the future.”
Damien O’Dowd, CEO of Bloomfield Health Services, said: “The marking of 200 years of providing treatment and care by Bloomfield is a significant achievement for the organisation and is a tribute to the steadfastness of the original mission to provide person-centred quality care to those with mental health needs and to frail elderly. The change in society over that period of time has been immense but our mission and the focus of our service provision has remained strong.
“Today at Bloomfield our commitment to our patients and residents, and the treatment and care provided to them, continues to be our focal point and the core of our mission. As we look towards the future, our continued desire to meet the expanding needs of our older generation is to provide a greater scope of services to include families and supported by the most progressive education and research.”
John McNeilly, Chairman, said Bloomfield was constantly balancing its desire to provide leading edge person-centred care while meeting the constantly changing and developing standards from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Mental Health Commission (MHC).
“Bloomfield’s strategic plan for years 2013 through 2015 is suggesting a slight change of direction, with a re-balancing of our nursing home and approved centre beds to allow for the development of new services around day care provision, respite, acute services and the provision of rapid assessment clinics,” said John. “To reflect the new services being offered, Bloomfield Care Centre will now be known as Bloomfield Health Services incorporating BloomfieldHospital and New Lodge Nursing Home.”
“Bloomfield Health Services has partnered with Trinity College Dublin, giving students the chance to spend time in Bloomfield, to develop hands-on experience and learning opportunities with our residents, all under the strict monitoring and tutelage of our medical and nursing teams. Bloomfield has also partnered with the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, with the commencement of a Tuesday Club and Alzheimer’s Café within our facility.
“Bloomfield has engaged more closely with our surrounding community by starting a series of public lectures, with topics ranging from “Diagnosis of Dementia: Where to From Here?”, “Keeping it All Together” and “Relaxation for Everyday Living”. Attendance has been very encouraging and the feedback has been very positive. A repeat series is being considered for the Spring/Autumn of next year. We are also engaging with local medical professionals, mainly aimed at GPs and members of health care teams in our area, offering an educational lecture from our consultant psychiatrist and other guest speakers.”
After the speeches everyone enjoyed a splendid meal provided by Compass Group and Olivia Mitchell TD cut a specially-commissioned cake, supplied by Superquinn.
Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, had hoped to attend the celebration but due to work commitments in the Dáil was unable to attend on the evening. She did, however, send a message of congratulations in which she recognised the commitment and dedication of Bloomfield to people with mental health problems and older people.
“The delivery of mental health care services has come a long way since Bloomfield first opened its doors back in 1812 and Bloomfield itself has been very much part of that change,” she said. “Even today, we see that this important service is continuing to develop and adapt for the benefit of all their clients and family members.”                 Fiona Murdoch

*‘Bloomfield, A History 1812 – 2012’ is a beautifully-presented book which captures the life of Bloomfield over the years. A small number of copies are available for purchase at €20 from Bloomfield reception.  Also available by mail order from qhist@eircom.netat €20.65 including post and packing.


Temple Hill Burial Ground appeal

Since 1860, Dublin Quakers have been laid to rest in the beautiful cemetery that lies between Blackrock and Monkstown.  Under the shade of ancient trees, the burial places are marked by uniform simple headstones, giving brief details of the life of the deceased.  A great effort goes into maintenance of the grounds so that mourners at the funerals and casual visitors alike can share the sense of peace and tranquility.  From time to time funding is a problem and an appeal was launched in the spring of 2012.  Contributions can be sent to The Office, Quaker House, Stocking Lane, Dublin 16.

The property situated between the villages of Blackrock and Monkstown, was purchased by Dublin Monthly Meeting from the owner Robert Gray in 1859.  A Minute of Sixth Month 1859 reads:  Report is made on behalf of the trustees appointed in 12th month last that the purchase of ground prepared for the new Burial Ground has been effected, and the sum of £1,000 has been paid for same…..

The Burial Ground was opened on the 6th day of Third Month 1860.  The first person to be interred was Hannah Chapman of 3 William Terrace Booterstown who had died on 3rd March 1860.  Sixty-three years later, in January 1923, Monthly Meeting was informed that there had been 959 interments, the Register was full and a new one provided.

Burials of Dublin Quakers had taken place in Cork Street since 1698 but that was rather a long way from the new Meeting House in Monkstown and a proposal was made in 1834 to open a new burial ground on the Friends’ property there.  This scheme was abandoned the following year and no further steps were taken until 1849 when a committee of thirty Friends was set up to find a suitable piece of land.  Four years later they reached an agreement to purchase a plot near Donnybrook – but this fell through at a very late stage.  It took five more years to conclude the search, with the acquisition of the plot between Blackrock and Monkstown.

At the end of 1858 plans were drawn up for the layout of the enclosure of the cemetery and a decision was taken to build a cottage for a caretaker.  In June the following year the need for a small meeting house was noted.  In the same month Friends agreed on the naming of the place as ‘Temple Hill Burial Ground’ and set a fund-raising scheme in motion.  By the end of 1861 the caretaker was in residence and, early in the following year, the meeting house had been built by Gustavus Hudson at a cost of £174 – 15 shillings.  Friends subscribed a total of £1,597 and the greater part of the balance was transferred from ‘Apprenticing funds’.

After the initial problems in finding a suitable piece of land, the matter seems to have proceeded smoothly and the greater part of the Monthly Meeting Minutes comprise annual reports which give details of the numbers of burials, the state of the finances and the appointment of committee members.  From time to time increasing costs led to agreement on increases in the fees.  Troubles were few – an exception was recorded in First Month 1925:

Some trouble has been experienced when opening graves by the finding of large masses of rock near the surface.  These have to be removed before the grave can be dug to a proper depth.  Before the war this was done by blasting, but now it has to be done by boring and splitting which takes more time.  In one case a second grave was opened and in another the funeral had to be postponed for a day.

The state of the caretaker’s cottage deteriorated over the years and a decision to rebuild rather than repair was taken in the 1930s.  The meeting house was enlarged by the addition of the porch in the 1920s.  Records over generations have seen frequent references to the devoted work of the care-takers and individual committee members who have kept Temple Hill in its state of beauty and tranquility.  The 21st century has seen a renewal of effort and continued improvements.

Christopher Moriarty
Friends Historical Library
June 2012


Rathfarnham Meeting Get Eco-Congregation Award

Rathfarnham has become the first meeting to receive an Eco-Congregation Ireland (ECI) award in recognition of its environmental endeavours.

Rathfarnham Quaker Meeting Win Eco Award
Sr Catherine Brennan, chairperson of Eco-Congregation Ireland, presents an award to members of Rathfarnham Meeting eco committee. Pictured from left: Gillian Armstrong, Fr Hugh O'Donnell (award assessor), Sinead Brady, Sr Catherine Brennan, Fiona Murdoch, Erica Calder and Patricia Garland.

Since setting up an “eco” committee three years ago, the meeting has planted fruit trees and a herb garden. Part of the lawn has grown into a wild meadow that is now home to three beehives.  Junior meeting sessions often incorporate environmental issues. Earthcare for Friends has been a valuable resource (published by Quaker Earthcare Witness 2004 ISBN 1-881083-10-1).

The meeting has signed up to Airtricity (to support renewable energy), uses energy-efficient light bulbs where possible and has clearly-labelled bins for recyclables.  All cleaning products, soap, toilet rolls etc. are environmentally-friendly brands and containers have been put in the toilet cisterns to save water.  Fairtrade tea and coffee is always used – crockery rather than disposable cups and plates.

Presenting the award on 4th December, ECI chairperson, Sr Catherine Brennan, said, “In all the “eco” work here, which covers many of the topics in the ECI resources, there is no sense of striving, or trying to achieve, or of it being hard work.  I feel sure that your approach in all the work flows from your quiet meditation.  Only constant and consistent meditation and prayer can help us live the simplicity of Jesus.”

Sr Catherine had read the Quaker testimonies of peace, integrity, simplicity and justice and could see how the meeting had linked each of these to God’s creation.  She was impressed that the meeting had considered whether earthcare should be a fifth testimony.   She said:  “The one that touched me most deeply is simplicity.  This testament is evident in all your “eco” work here – from the planting of the herb garden and fruit trees, the development of the natural meadow to the installation of the water butt, to name but a few.”

“The variety of work done by the Junior Meeting is truly impressive – planting, studying, creating, raising money for the poor … You are truly living out the Chinese proverb –

“Tell me, I forget
Show me, I remember
Involve me, I understand.”

Topics covered in junior meeting have included celebrating creation, recycling, living simply, insects, “eco” quiz, Fairtrade, water and globalisation.  The children and teenagers have helped plant seeds, bulbs, herbs and fruit trees and they have made a bug hotel and an Easter Garden from natural materials.  They have also organised a number of fundraising cake sales, with beneficiaries including VITA and Rainforest Concern.

One of the first steps Rathfarnham meeting “eco” committee took was to reflect on its eco initiatives to date, with the guidance of the Eco-Congregation Ireland checklist (see  Resources Section 1).  This helped them identify what the meeting had already achieved and to see what areas might be prioritised.

Last Spring the meeting invited the local community to join in a spring clean that was organised in conjunction with Rathfarnham parish “eco” group.  Members of the meeting have also been encouraged to sign up to “The Litter Project” – a world-wide campaign that encourages people to commit to picking up a piece of litter every day.  One member of the committee also set up a Facebook page called One Piece of Litter a Day – Ireland.

Members and attenders have taken part in national Stop Climate Chaos campaigns and the Global Action Day on 10/10/10.

The assessment of Rathfarnham meeting was carried out by two independent assessors – Salesian priest, poet and author, Fr Hugh O’Donnell and Dean Eaton, environmental awareness officer at Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

In his report, Fr Hugh said, “This group of Quakers is dedicated to the spiritual dimension of the environmental movement.  It seems that, by nature, they find the God-space in Creation …. The Quaker ‘way’ works as a leaven – simply and effectively. They nicely stress the integration of faith and Creation. They hold an ‘oasis’ in trust for the local community, which has its own eco-resonance.”

Fr Hugh believed that the members of the meeting were living out a conviction “to live as a family with all creation.” “This aspiration comes from a spirituality that is essentially ecological,” he said.

Dorking meeting is the only meeting in Britain to have received an award from Eco-Congregation England and Wales (two awards, in fact!) although several other meetings in the UK have signed up to Eco-Congregation.

We would love to hear how other meetings in Ireland are incorporating earthcare into their worship and activities!

You can find out out more about Eco-Congregation Ireland from the website or contact Fiona Murdoch.

Quaker Youth in Ireland Yearly Meeting, June 2011

This article appears in the September-October 2011 issue of The Friendly Word the Irish Quaker bi-monthly magazine.

CAROLYN MCMULLAN, Youth Coordinator, Ireland Yearly Meeting, reports on a years activities:

On 1st July 2010 Ireland Yearly Meeting had their first Youth Coordinator take up post. This meant starting from scratch with the Young People aged between 10-30 years of age. The database which has now been set up tells us that there are just over 500 members and attenders within this age group.

My overarching aim is to raise the profile of our Young Friends in Ireland, to empower, enabling them to feel valued and a real sense of identity with The Religious Society of Friends here on this island.

How was I going to achieve this considering there were very real anxieties from many parents and some Meetings who did not know this new Youth Coordinator and there was a sense of too little too late!

First Objective – Youth Clubs

My first objective was to work on setting up some Youth Clubs I spent a lot of time working with parents and older young people to recruit helpers to enable the clubs to run effectively.

Over the year there have been 3 monthly youth clubs started up in various parts of the country. There are also 2 youth groups which meet every 2-3months. The regularity of these events reflects the wishes of the young people involved in the groups and my availability to organise and run them.

There has also been a worship and bible study evening on the first Sunday in the month. This was at the request of Young Friends.

The numbers of young people who have attended these occasions vary from 5 to 27.

Second Objective – Visit Meetings

It is planned that each Meeting be visited by the Youth Coordinator twice in the 3 year term. To date 16 Meetings have been visited. This has been an opportunity for members and attenders to meet with the Coordinator and find out what is happening with young people and how the youth of that Meeting can become involved.

Two Monthly Meetings have asked the Youth Coordinator to speak to them abou how things are going and how they can get involved in supporting the work being done.

Third Objective – Residential Events

The goal was to be involved with any existing or new residential events for young people in IYM. There have been a number of overnight events throughout the past year. These include Senior Moyallon Camp, Churchtown weekend, Over 18’s, JYM(arrangements and actual event), Yearly Meeting Youth Programme, Junior Moyallon Camp and Leadership Training Weekend.

Fourth Objective –  Work with Individuals

Part of the role has been to meet with individuals on a one to one basis just to touch base and bring encouragement both socially and spiritually. Involvement in planning and running group occasions has taken priority this year. None the less, if a young person asked to meet up the time was always made available.

Fifth Objective: Leadership Training Course

The Leadership Training was developed to help equip older young people to lead in a servant-hearted manner and yet be aware of health and safety and child protection issues. From the feedback it would appear to have been very helpful to all who attended. It is hoped that training of this nature will be an ongoing process throughout the 3 year term.

Sixth Objective: Programme for Young Friends at IYM

This proved to be a really successful time where we had loads of fun while addressing how we Quakers do business as well as playing many games and attending some of the main YM sessions. I know the more mature folk really enjoyed having up to 29 young people attending.

This has been a busy yet productive year, where a number of young people who were not actively involved in The Religious Society of Friends have been willing to attend get-togethers that have been organised.

The first year has been a time of learning, where the young people have openly expressed what it is they want from the Youth Coordinator. It has been my desire to implement their wishes to the best of my ability. I would hope that over the next 2 years there will be a strong network of Young Friends throughout Ireland who have a strong sense of Quaker identity and are committed to both the spiritual basis and social witness of the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland.