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Clare Person of the Year 2011

 

A missionary nun who has devoted her career to looking after the sick in Africa has been conferred with the Clare Person of the Year award 2011 by the Clare Association in Dublin at its annual dinner dance in the Carlton Hotel. Sr. Maura O’ Donoghue (pictured) from Lickeen, Kilfenora, who is a medical doctor and member of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, received the honour after coming to the Association’s attention for her pioneering work in Nigeria and Ethiopia.  She has served terms on the general council of Mother Mary Martin and as her order’s regional superior for Europe. 

Sr. Maura was one of four children of the late Andrew and Katherine (Baby) O'Donoghue. Both of her parents came from Lickeen and her mother was the former Katherine O'Brien. Her father, Andrew was in charge of the North Clare IRA Brigade during the War of Independence. Her mother and aunts were also were also involved and took great risks during that time. Their children were Sr. Maura; Anne, who is in Cleveland, USA; Jimmy in Lickeen and Paddy, in Gortown.

Sr. Maura went to primary school in Kilshanny where her uncle's wife, Mary O'Brien née Williams was teaching. Her secondary school education was in Mountmellick after which she entered the medical missionaries of Mary in Dublin. Her first year was spent studying medicine in university and she interrupted her studies to do her novitiate year. She returned as a second-year novitiate to continue her medical studies. In 1958, she went to Nigeria where she worked in a hospital and made her final profession there one year later. Also in 1959 she was appointed to the General Council of the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Mother Mary Martin then asked her to accompany her during an extended visit to many countries where the Medical Missionaries had been invited to establish new missions.

Later assignments included Spain - where she had to re-sit all her medical examinations through Spanish which was followed by a period when she was Regional Superior of Europe. She returned to Ethiopia in 1971 where she suffered resistant malaria over two years before being assigned to Gambo, Ethiopia which was free of malaria but where leprosy was a serious problem. Some time later, Sr. Maura spent a year at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine studying for her Master's degree in Community Health and then returned to Ethiopia to head up a team working on Community Health, as well as being medical co-ordinator for Catholic Mission projects. In 1984, Sr. Maura moved the Catholic Secretariat in Addis Ababa to co-ordinate the Famine Relief Programme.

In presenting her with her award at the annual dinner dance, Liam O'Looney, then chairman of the Clare Association, told guests that Sr. Maura joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary at a time when it was still unusual to have religious sisters practising medicine and surgery. However under the direction of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, nuns started to qualify in medicine. He said Sr. Maura had a distinguished career in missionary work, mostly in Africa and other developing countries. She initiated welfare schemes and clinics for the hungry during famines in Africa. She was also to the fore in starting up AIDS clinics and HIV treatments for sufferers.

In accepting her award at the Clare Association function, she spoke of her experiences in Nigeria and Ethiopia and said that she was accepting the award in appreciation of the people who supported her in her work.

Sr Maura spoke about first going  to Nigeria in 1958 to work in a hospital and later to Ethiopia where, in 1974, the semi-communist ‘Derg’ regime came to take power.  She recalled that this represented a serious challenge to foreign missionaries in the country with the new regime hostile to both foreigners and anyone associated with a church. “They were troubled times - I was interrogated by them for four hours every Friday.  This lasted for 18 months, but I held tough” said the North Clare-born missionary, who spent 14 years in Ethiopia.

During that time she was medical superintendent of a hospital that had 54 out-reach clinics. She supervised all of the out-reach clinics while living in tents. On behalf of the Catholic Secretariat in Addis Ababa, she also co-ordinated famine-relief work and organised control of serious cholera epidemics.

On returning to live in the Congregation Centre and Communications Department of the Medical Missionaries of Mary in Ireland at Booterstown, she commenced working with the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, CAFOD, the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Since 1986 she was responsible for the HIV-AIDS desk on their behalf, a position that took her to 72 different countries for training workshops and project assessment. In retirement, she undertook the work of countering human trafficking,  a worldwide problem, and a task that also took her to many countries all over the world. All in all, her work took her to 83 different countries but she always remained close to her family who supported her in every way.

Sr. Maura O’Donoghue, Medical Missionaries of Mary, died on 5 May 2015. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílís.

 

 Martin Corry Memorial Walk 2011

 

The Clare Association Dublin held a sponsored walk in aid of Enable Ireland around Howth Head on Sunday 2nd October commencing at 11:30 am, starting at Howth Dart station.

Enable Ireland is a national voluntary organisation providing essential support, therapy and services to children and adults with physical and sensory disabilities throughout Ireland.

The Clare Association Dublin were proud to present a cheque for €3,000 to Enable Ireland in the Addison Lodge Hotel in Glasnevin on Dec 9th 2011. For more information see: www.enableireland.ie

 

 

 The Burren National Park. Approximately 75% of all plant species found in Ireland can be found in the Burren including 23 of Irelands 27 native orchid species. Image: www.burren.ieThe Burren National Park. Approximately 75% of all plant species found in Ireland can be found in the Burren including 23 of Irelands 27 native orchid species. Image: www.burren.ie

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