Local Faces: Pat Daly
Brought up in Ballymun, Pat says that growing up in a working-class community and witnessing addiction and its devastating impact gave him the passion and the motivation to carry out the work he does today and to help others in need in the Tallaght community.
Starting out his career working in Coolmine Treatment Centre back in the early 1990’s, Pat went on to manage the Ashleigh House complex, a residential for women struggling with addiction.
“I was there for six years before I went on to manage the Coolmine day programme on Lord Edward Street for a couple of years,” said Pat.
“I had been working in the field a long time by then, and I was in a bad car accident, and I was out of work for about eight months during that time and it got me thinking whether I wanted to go back into the field or do something different.
“I decided to step out of the addiction field and go work for the ISPCC for Childline and I worked there for eighteen months, and it was a completely different experience for me.”
Whilst enjoying his new role at Childline, Pat was approached by a friend, Marie, who he knew from college, and she told him about a new programme that she was starting in St. Thomas’ Church in Jobstown.
Despite being in two minds about whether to get back into the field, Pat went out to meet Marie to discuss the new programme.
“Marie asked me to come up for an interview and to give them a bit of a dig out to see where we land and I am here 30 years later,” Pat laughed.
“I had a load of respect for Marie and what she was trying to do here in the community and coming from Ballymun I knew exactly what she was trying to do. I suppose it is where my forte really lies at the end of the day – giving back to the community and help people and I found my niche again to do that.
“At that time the need was identified in Tallaght for a dedicated rehabilitation programme and Marie had established that programme,” Pat explained. “There was a local priest in the area at the time – Fr Val Martin, he was a local legend, and everyone knew him in the Jobstown area.
“He and Marie had a meeting and Marie had told him that she was putting together the programme and luckily Fr Val invited us to use some of the rooms in the church for the clients. We had two rooms and we had a dining room that we could use, and Fr Val took us in there and looked after us.”
The Tallaght Rehabilitation Project (TRP) was officially established in 1997 and began providing vital services for people with drug or alcohol addiction who are currently drug or alcohol free. Soon after establishing, TRP began to evolve and gaining more clients and began to take off from there, requiring them to need a bigger premises.
“We had our eye on Kiltalown House, but it was very delipidated at the time – I think the council were going to knock it down at one stage,” said Pat. “The gardens were in an awful state, and it was like a jungle.
“There were three local women running groups up here and they were the ones keeping it open, and only for them I think the house would be gone by now. Marie and I thought that it would be a great place for us to run the programme from and an ideal setting.
“We had this lad, Tony O’Hagan, and he was one of the main men who worked for South Dublin County Council, and he was on our board. We got talking to Tony about this and he went and spoke to the council, and they decided that TRP was going to move up there and see how it works out. I have to say that the council were fantastic when we moved up here, they really supported us in what we were trying to do, and we are forever grateful to them.”
Reminiscing on the day that TRP moved into its current location at Kiltalown House, Pat said: “It was July 18, 2005, beautiful summers day – I will always remember it. We were ecstatic to say the least when we got here and there was only four or five staff at that time and we were looking at each other thinking that we need to pinch ourselves.
“We had a beautiful facility, and it was ideal for what we needed it for. We got settled and started hiring some people from the local community through CE such as gardeners and maintenance and we started getting stuck into the gardens.”
About a year after moving to Kiltalown House, Marie became ill and had to retire from her role as manager, with Pat stepping into the position. Despite his initial reservations, Pat took the position and has been the manager at TRP for the last fourteen years and oversees the operations and 23 staff members.
“We have just grown and evolved, and we have people from all over Tallaght come here to access our services,” said Pat. “We have the day programme and an aftercare service here, so a person can enter into a harm reduction treatment centre like JADD or CARP and can engage in the programme, become stable and then step into recovery and aftercare, so in Tallaght there is the whole package.
“My staff here, they are all academically trained but some of them have had experience with addiction and they are the most passionate and loyal people you could ever meet. They would do absolutely anything for the clients here, go the extra 100 yards and they are so passionate and just want to help.”
Outside the day service and aftercare programme, TRP also run different initiatives such as a residential trip away for four days in the summer, which is always proven to be a success with the clients.
“It is absolutely crucial that we do that and the HSE and the taskforce have been fantastic to ensure that we have the funding for it,” Pat explained. “It gets the clients out of the community for a few days and there is a fun element as well as a therapeutic element to it and they can be a lot more open and transparent.
“That trip is the key moment for a lot of clients who come back and say ‘ok, I am moving on now’.
“We also do an initiative called box smart and we hire the local gym in Brookfield every year and a professional trainer and the group go and do a physical module as well as a nutritional module and our guys absolutely love it.”
Speaking on the back of the recent reports of increased use and dealing of drugs in the Tallaght area, namely crack cocaine, Pat says that he believes that recovery is something that should be “celebrated” rather than stigmatised.
“We want to highlight and challenge stigma and bias,” he explained. “There is a lot of bias towards people who are in addiction and people who are in recovery. People can say ‘a leopard never changes its spots’ and all of them sorts of things, but we want to challenge that and say hang on, people do get well, people do get better, and they do recover.
“There is a recovery community in Tallaght, there is no doubt about it,” Pat continued.
“I could give you a list of hundreds of people who have come through not only our programme but also the residential programme New Hope, JADD, CARP and other programmes and have really made a success of their lives and have really improved the quality of life for them and their families.”