Celebration: Thurles Order of Malta to toast 70 years of service to the community

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarystar.ie

Order of Malta Ambulance upgrade for Thurles branch

Order of Malta Centre at Bohervaroon where the Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated.

The Cadets will celebrate 50 years in existence on the same day.

Saturday October 13th will be a red letter day for the Thurles Order of Malta unit as they celebrate 70 years of loyal and dedicated service to the local community, while the Cadets will celebrate their Golden Jubilee.
A great day of celebration is planned commencing with a wreath laying ceremony in St Mary's International Garden of Remembrance at 3:00pm. From there, the group will take the short trip to their wonderful headquarters on Bohervaroon, Thurles for a Mass of Thanksgiving to be celebrated by Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. There will be light refreshments in the centre, before the celebrations adjourn to the Anner Hotel at 7:00pm for a cheese and wine reception, followed by dinner and dancing till late.
All members past and present, their families, friends and representatives are invited to come along and celebrate the lengthy service to the community. Tickets, costing €30 can be obtained from the headquarters in Bohervaroon on Wednesday and Friday evenings or from 087 2390111. They can also be booked through emailing thurles@orderofmalta.ie
Special guest on the evening will be the Ambulance Corps National Director John Wright and his wife Janette, while the evening will be hosted by Lieut. Irene O'Loughlin, Officer in Charge of the Thurles unit.
The Thurles Unit of the Ambulance Corps was established by the late Comdt. Martin O’Dwyer and Dr. Paddy Molony in 1948. This emerged from experience Martin O’Dwyer and Laurence Doherty gained whilst being volunteers of the Ambulance Unit of the L.S.F. (Local Security Force). After the War when the L.S.F was disbanded Martin and Laurence felt it important to instruct others in the skills they learned to assist others. Dr. Patrick Molony M.B., B.Ch., L.M., D.P.H was contacted to conduct the First Aid Classes which began on the 16th September, 1948.
Seventeen people attended the course and went on to become the founding members of the Unit. They were: Gus Butler, Friar Street; Philip Maher, Abbey Road; Sean Carey, Mitchel Street; emigrated to Canada; William Moloney, Fianna Road; emigrated to America; Paddy Doherty, Ard na Croise; Gus Molumby, Moyne Road; Christy Shortt Laharden; Frank Gleeson, Parnell Park; James Turner, Moyne Road; Ciaran McNamara, Dublin; Joe Carey, Mitchel Street, R.I.P; Sean Collins, Ard Mhuire, R.I.P; Lauranece Doherty, Inisfallen Avenue, R.I.P; Martin O’Dwyer, Iona Avenue, R.I.P; Michael Murphy, Butler Avenue, R.I.P; Tony Ryan, Pearse Tce R.I.P ; Eamon Fahey, Turtulla, R.I.P.
Dr. Patrick Molony was appointed as the Medical Officer for the Unit. Dr. Jermiah Kinane, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, became a patron and appointed Fr. Power as Spiritual Director to the unit.
For the first seven years of its life the Unit met in the Confraternity Hall. In the summer of 1955, Dr. Lee, The Unit Chaplain, made an offer of a free site on which to build a two storey building in O’Donovan Rossa Street. March 1956, saw the drawing up of the plans for the Unit premises and work commenced in July of that year. What is special and unique about the Hall, is, it was completely erected by the members, using direct labour in their spare time. The total cost of the building, estimated to be £1,000, was for material cost only.
In 1959, nearly four years later, the Hall was officially opened and Blessed by Dr. Lee Administrator, Thurles. It was named Dr. Kinane Hall after the Late Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Most Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Kinane.
The building was a testament to the hard work put in by those volunteers. With the increased size of ambulances over the years, the garage became no longer usable as such and in the 1990s was partitioned into a corridor and additional room.
Over the years due to the expansion of both our membership and vehicle fleets the premises at RossaStreet (built in the 1950s by the direct labour of our members), became too small for our needs and no longer adequate.
As a result in 2006, through the good offices of Thurles Town Council, we were provided with a green field site on long lease at Bohervaroon upon which we commenced construction of the first phase of a new and exciting purpose built Unit premises, the provision of covered garaging for our vehicle fleet. This opened in 2010, and completion of Phase II, a stand-alone two-storey building comprising training rooms, meeting areas and community care facilities occurred in Spring2014.
A building project of this size and nature, spanning a period of nine years, would not have succeeded without the co-operation of the many voluntary and professional groups involved and the continued support of the people, business, sporting cultural and philanthropical organisations of Thurles and its surrounding parishes. In addition, our own local members, friends and associates worked tirelessly in their fundraising efforts to bridge the gap, the most spectacular effort being the running, in conjunction with local Vintage Clubs of a very successful Tractor Challenge held at Thurles Racecourse on Sunday, 27th April 2014.
The new Unit Training Centre now provides the Thurles Unit with a modern purpose-built facility to allow it to service the needs of both the local community and its own members well into the foreseeable future.
The Unit has flourished in many areas from its humble beginnings. In the beginning transport to duty for the unit members was by foot and bicycle. Undeterred the Unit members carried out a total of six hundred and eighty six duties during their first year. It was July 1950, before the unit became motorised. A local shopkeeper loaned the unit a Station Wagon which was fitted up for use as an Ambulance at Race meetings. The Thurles Unit now operate a number of fully equipped vehicles: including three ambulances, one four-wheel drive vehicle, a minibus with an electric wheelchair ramp. Our vehicles are equipped with modern functional patient assessment, treatment and monitoring equipment. In order to provide the best standard of service to our local community we must invest not only in training but also in the acquisition of up to date equipment that is why we recently purchased a 172 Renault Master ambulance.
The Thurles Unit was unique in one aspect that is for thirty years the unit consisted of men only. It was not until 1978 that women were encouraged to join the Unit.
In 1967, the Unit got down to the task of forming a Boys Cadet Unit which initially consisted of 12 members.
In national and regional emergency planning, the Order of Malta Ireland Ambulance Corps forms a back-up to the statutory ambulance services.
Work of the Unit
The work of the Thurles Unit is wide and varied. Basically, it falls into two broad categories: First-Aid and Community Care. In the First-Aid role, we provide a wide range of services in the local community. First-Aid and ambulance cover is provided for all major events in the locality where large numbers of people gather.
We are also actively engaged in the Community Care role in the Thurles area. This includes the transport of clients from local hospitals and nursing homes to Christmas and other parties, the transfer of patients to/from hospitals in Dublin, and other cities the provision of services at the Blood Bank, Special Olympics and Community Care together with taking clients on Lourdes Pilgrimages and, in conjunction with the Lions Clubs of Ireland, on holiday to TrabolganHoliday Centre in Cork.
Thurles Cadets
The idea of having young people being part of the Thurles unit was first conceived in 1967 when the unit was recruiting new members for the Senior Unit (or the Men’s Unit as it was known then). Twelve boys aged about 14 years of age underwent their exam on 22.12.67 and they were then enrolled in early 1968. For the first year they accompanied members of the Men’s unit on duty events, so as to acquire a knowledge of the practical application of First Aid. In 1978, a major expansion in membership occurred, with the recruitment of both adult Ladies and Girl Cadets.
The Cadet Unit which we have today is quite different. During the past 50 years the number of cadets in the unit has varied from about 12 cadets to about 90 cadets. As it was 50 years ago our present cadets accompany senior members on duties regularly. However the extra activities have changed somewhat. They now include team building games, Fun Days, Trips to Cadet Camps, day trips and socialising with other cadet Units in our region.
The cadets gain many life-changing experiences in the cadet unit. Every year a number go on the pilgrimage to Lourdes. Thurles are consistent in sending a few cadets each year. As challenging as the work is, it does not deter these young people – many of whom wish to work in caring professions as adults, as a result.
Most of our Cadets graduate to the Senior Ranks on attaining their 16th birthday and indeed, one member of the original class of 1967, John Medley remains a member with us today and, having passed through various Unit and Regional appointments, is now Assistant National Director of the Ambulance Corps. We are looking forward to many more successful years of the Thurles Cadets.
Training & Equipment
The Order of Malta has achieved recognition from the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council of Ireland (PHECC), a State body established under statute to regulate pre-hospital emergency care standards in the statutory, private and voluntary ambulance sectors, as a training institution for the following levels of expertise:
o Cardiac First Responder
o Emergency First Responder
o Emergency Medical Technician
Thurles Unit has a planned career-path structure in place covering these levels of expertise and encourages all of its members to progress through same in a structured way. This means that when asked to undertake first-aid duties, members are sufficiently qualified to successfully deal with any situation which they may face. Members are expected to engage in regular training and up-skilling and are obliged to re-certify annually.