NHS 75: In loving memory of Kathleen and Maureen O’Halloran: From Barefield in Ireland to Princess Alexandra Hospital

Harlow is 70: Why I Came Here / Wed 5th Jul 2023 at 08:51am

THIS short piece is dedicated to Kathleen Casey (nee O’Halloran).

My mother left her farm in the village of Barefield, County Clare, Republic of Ireland on a cold morning back in 1949.

She went to follow her sister Maureen (Hole nee O’Halloran) into the nursing profession.

This was a brave brave move for a teenage girl, who in her heart wanted to stay on the farm but nurses were needed in post war London.

She trained at St Luke’s in Guildford (closed in 1996) and Kathleen’s qualification certificate hung proudly on the wall of her house until she died in 2014 aged 84.

Kathleen worked in many London hospitals including St Thomas’s among many others.

She rose to the rank of staff nurse and was for ever known at home as Staff Nurse O’Halloran.

By 1971, 30,000 Irish nurses worked in the NHS.. 12% of the workforce.

Quiet, reserved but determined. Kathleen was much loved and much respected by her colleagues in London.

She was a hard worker and a disciplinarian. Kathleen passed that down to her children.

Strangely enough, her children didn’t seem to ever take any time off school for illness. There was a lot of TLC at her family home in Great Brays but no self pity or malingering!

In the late sixties, Kathleen worked at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH). To this day, her son, the editor of Your Harlow is proud to mention that.

In January, when interviewing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, (when he was visiting PAH), he asked me if I used the hospital. I was proud to tell him all about Kathleen Casey but I was also proud to tell him about the wonderful maternity department in Harlow that delivered four grandchildren.

I am proud to show you the photos of my mother from seventy years ago.

There is a friendship bench back at the school in Barefield dedicated to two wonderful nurses: Kathleen and Maureen O”Halloran.

God bless them and god bless the NHS.

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4 Comments for NHS 75: In loving memory of Kathleen and Maureen O’Halloran: From Barefield in Ireland to Princess Alexandra Hospital:

2023-07-05 09:18:54

A moving tribute to a brave and loving mother and nurse . Well done editor , you are right to be so proud of her .

Mark allinson
2023-07-05 19:04:01

Excellent piece reflecting the very personal attachment that we have to our wonderful NHS

Ian Beckett
2023-07-05 19:24:36

The best piece of journalism I have seen on Your Harlow. Thank you sir!

Christine Street
2023-07-06 01:27:33

Beautiful tribute to your mother and aunt, for their selflessness, dedication and love. These are the people who made Harlow proud x

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