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The Kildare Observer, February 10, 1934


Opened at Firmount, County Kildare.

St. Conleth’s new Sanatorium situate at Firmount, Sallins, County Kildare, was formally opened on last Friday by Dr. E. P. McCarron, Secretary, Local Government Department, acting on behalf of the Minister for Local Government, Mr. Sean T. O’Kelly, who was unavoidably absent.
The New Sanatorium has been provided by the Kildare Health Board to deal with cases of chronic and acute tuberculosis from the county. It is in charge of Dr. Wm. McCarthy, Co. M.O.H.; Mrs. Masterson, Matron, and two Nurses, Misses Butler and Dunne.
Speaking at the luncheon following the opening ceremony, Dr. McCarron paid tribute to the Kildare Board of Health who, he declared, were pioneers in health reform. The Department had the fullest confidence that the new Institution would be in safe keeping in the capable hands of Dr. McCarthy, on the medical side, and Mr. D.J. Purcell, on the administrative side.

There are thirty beds at present in the Sanatorium which was formally a private residence owned by Major Henry. It is situated on about twenty acres of well timbered demesne – on top of an eminence. From the windows of the wards patients look on to the beautiful stretches of woodland and pasture. The wardrooms, three in number, are admirably constructed – each containing ten beds. Central Heating has been provided and the entire building is equipped on the most modern appliances and furnished on the most hygienical lines.
On the arrival of the visitors they were conducted through the Sanatorium and grounds by Dr. McCarthy and Mr. P. Phelan, Chairman of the Co. Board of health; Dr. Michael Purcell, Assistant Co. M.O.H; V. Rev. L. Kheoe, P.P., Clane; Rev. Fr. Murphy, C.C., Clane; Dr. and Mrs. Blake, Geo. and Mrs. Gardiner, Rev. P. W. and Mrs. Carter, Dr. McDonnell, L.G. Dept., and Dr. Boyd Barrett, do.; Dr. J. H. Harbison, Co. M.O.H., Dublin; M. Smyth, and J.J. Byrne, etc., etc.
The formal opening having been preformed by Dr. McCarron, the visitors were entertained to lunch.
Mr. Phelan, welcoming the visitors, said that this hospital, he hoped, would have a great future before it – a future in which hope, consolation and mercy would be the predominant factors. The lot, as they all knew, of the tuberculosis patient was not too happy, but here, they would have an institution where everything that science could accomplish for the amelioration of that lot, would be done by willing hands. The Kildare Board of Health had to meet many commitments at the present time and it would be superfluous for him to talk of how hard pressed the taxpayers were, but this much he would say on behalf of the people of Kildare that were the cause of suffering humanity was concerned they would never be found wanting (applause). He would propose, therefore, the toast of their new hospital – a toast to its future, and he would add his humble that it would serve a useful purpose and bring a message of hope and consolation to the hearts of their people. (Applause).
Dr. McCarron said this new institution was the outward and visible sign of the attack made on tuberculosis in Co. Kildare. He had been greatly impressed by his inspection of the sanatorium and all the more so because, ordinarily, he was opposed to converting private houses for use as sanatoria. But in this case he had to remind himself constantly that this was a converted building, so admirably was it suited for its purpose. Co. Kildare and its Board of Health were pioneers of health reform. It was the first County in the Saorstat to have a Co. M.O.H., and he thought much of the success achieved here was due to its splendid officials, Mr. D.J. Purcell and Dr. McCarthy, and to the wisdom and conscientiousness of the Board’s Chief Director, Mr. P. Phelan. (Applause).
Dealing with the figures for tuberculosis he said they showed a reduction of 40.7 p.c. as compared with the comparatively recent figures for 1913-14. A still more gratifying feature of these figures was that the more youthful groups showed the greatest decrease. Thus the figures of deaths of children up to the age of five years showed a reduction of 65.6; children between the ages of five years and ten years, a reduction of 57.5; and children between the ages of ten years and fifteen years a reduction of 54.2 p.c. as compared with the corresponding figures per thousand for the year 1913-14. Figures For Children.
An examination of the figures also avowed that during 1933, if they took the figures for children between the ages of 10 and 15, eleven children were being treated for every death, which went to show they had arrived at the gratifying position that all cases that should be treated were being ascertained and treated. That was very gratifying in view of the fact that early diagnosis was of vital importance in the cure of this disease.
Another important aspect of the statistics was that the death rate was among females was larger than among males, but it was very consoling to know that the decline in the death rate among females for the period under review was higher than the decline among males.
Continuing, Mr. McCarron said he would have very great pleasure in conveying to Mr. O’Kelly an account of their inspired proceedings that day. He understood the Sanatorium was dedicated to St. Conleth. He had been particularly struck by the beautiful chapel which he was sure was dedicated to the great saint. During Conleth’s times the Danes were very troublesome. They raided the shrine of St. Conleth and St. Brigid. Perhaps he would conclude by expressing the hope that this new shrine dedicated to St. Conleth and St. Brigid, a shrine which no mortal power can break would prove a shrine in which would be found kindness and charity, and the alleviation of human suffering. (applause).
Dr. J. Harbison said that the Sanatorium would be a protection for the public by removing sources of infection. The treatment of tuberculosis was not the provision of a remedy, but the alteration of a mode of life. The watchword of the campaign against it must be “education, co-operation and organisation.” He said he was he first County Medical Officer of Health in the Saorstat and that was a tribute to the perspicacity of the Kildare Co. Council, who was the first public body to put the scheme in operation.
Whole-hearted Generosity
The Rev. L. Kehoe, P.P., Clane, said the Kildare Board of Health had always stood for everything that concerned the health of the people. He had been for eighteen years a public priest among the people of Kildare, and one of the things that had impressed him was the whole hearted generosity of the people and the Board of Health towards all requiring relief and those stricken with disease. Their interest was not of a spectacular kind. There was no county in Ireland where care on behalf of the sick. And the poor who would meet with more ready response than amongst the people of their county.
Chronic Cases
Dr. Boyd Barrett said the Institution would provide a long-felt need. Before Union amalgamation every workhouse had at least two tuberculosis wards. Peamount Sanatorium was for cases in the early stages, but there was need everywhere for provision to deal with chronic and advanced cases.
Need Of Substantial Grant
Dr. McConnell having spoken, Mr. Henderson said he was proud to say he had the pleasure of proposing that the Board of Health adopt the scheme. At the time they had had a lot of talk and it looked doubtful, but he had been very favourable to it for a long time, and they managed to get over all opposition. The Board of Health was now proud having set up this Institution. At all events he never heard a word of opposition to it now. On the other hand he could feel for the ratepayer. Many of them had to pay rates and the less they had to pay the better. Kildare was putting up a big show in adopting those schemes of Public Health, and incurred a great deal of preliminary expense. He hoped then that the Government would not do what they did before in giving grants to Cork, Clare, Kerry and other places and leave Kildare out in the cold. They in Kildare had shown they appreciated the necessity for such schemes and so far they were prepared to pay for them. He hoped the Local Government Department would not forget that in the future, and that they would see their way to give a substantial grant to County Kildare.
The Rev. M. Coster complimented all concerned in this great project, and wished it every success.
Mr. D.J. Purcell thanked Mr. McCarron for the complimentary remarks he made towards him. He said it was a great honour to him to be Secretary of the Kildare Board of Health. They were a body, the members of which vied with each other in promoting the health and welfare of the sick and suffering poor. The success of the Board was in a great measure due to the wisdom they had shown in retaining as their Chairman Mr. Phelan, the worthy captain of that assembly.
Mr. Gardiner said he wished to thank the Board for the assistance for the assistance thay had given him in carrying out the work that was necessary in the building.
Dr. MacCarthy said he wished to thank the Chairman and the other members of the Board of Health for the great assistance they had always given him. He said that he had only played a minor part in connection with the provision of the new sanatorium. He had only to do with the equipment of the Institution and he was afraid that all the credit he had got was not due to him. The catering was carried out by Mrs. Lawler and Sons, Naas.

The opening of a new Sanatorium at Firmount, Sallins is covered in this story from The Kildare Observer, February 10, 1934 to help with the increasing cases of  tuberculosis in the county.

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