Local Faces: Shirley Lawlor
HUNDREDS of cakes were baked by volunteers and over €6,500 was raised as a result of a coffee morning held in Crumlin in aid of Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross last week.
This is the fifteenth coffee morning organised by Crumlin woman Shirley Lawlor, 52, though she is keen to stress that the event has always been a community effort.
Over the years, Shirley’s coffee mornings have grown significantly, with her first coffee morning in 2007 with her friend Fran Lawlor raising a respectable €100 for the hospice.
“I worked in the local convent, St Agnes’s on Armagh Road, and the Sisters of Charity were very involved with the hospice before the HSE took it over,” Shirley explained.
“So I said we might as well have a coffee morning, and see how it goes. We raised €100, and it was like that for a few years until we started raising €1,000 and €2,000.”
In the years since her first coffee morning, Shirley ran a raffle which helped to bump up the funds raised each year, and her own personal experiences increased her motivation to raise more.
Five years ago, Shirley’s friend John McGee, who was from Captain’s Road, passed away in the hospice at age 50 from pancreatic cancer.
This gave Shirley a fuller insight into the work of the hospice, and a strong sense of appreciation for the care her friend received in his final days.
“It 100 per cent made me more motivated,” she said. “Just before John died he was in the old unit for palliative care, but I got to see the new wing, and see the difference the donations made.”
In 2020, Shirley once again got to see the impact of the work of the hospice as her friend, Clondalkin woman Kathryn Kelly, availed of their night nurse service.
Kathryn passed away that November, aged in her early 50s, from bowel cancer, and was actively involved in getting raffle prizes for Shirley’s coffee morning to show her support for the hospice.
“Kathryn didn’t want to go into the hospice until it was the end, because she wanted to be at home for as long as possible – the hospice went with her wishes,” said Shirley.
“So she was only in the hospice for 24 hours. But the nurses from the hospice did home visits, they’d visit once or twice a day.
“The way the nurses spoke to her…she had no fear of dying whatsoever. She was a very strong and very brave woman who put everyone else first.
“She was very practical. I told her not to worry about getting raffle prizes, that she should worry about herself, but I’d see her every Tuesday and she’d always say, ‘Look what I got for the raffle’.”
Seeing the difference the Harold’s Cross Hospice’s end-of-life care made to her two friends in their final weeks and months strengthened Shirley’s resolve to grow her coffee morning.
Her local sports club, Crumlin GAA Club, is now heavily involved in the event which, since Covid, has transformed into more of a street-party-style fundraiser on Cashel Road.
“We always used to have it in the house, but then two years ago we couldn’t because of the pandemic,” explained Shirley. “We had it outside on the road, socially distanced, instead.”
The outdoor event went down a storm, and Shirley and her team of helpers, including Ailish Barry, Hilary Barber and Rachel Carter have been instrumental in its continued success.
Ever since then, Shirley’s coffee morning has been held outdoors on Cashel Road. Last Thursday, over 150 people attended the annual event which has raised thousands for the hospice.
It gives Shirley and the other volunteers a sense of satisfaction to know that the money they raise is going to a good cause and making a difference in the community.
“My friend’s mam recently passed away with hospice care, and the staff aren’t only helping the person that’s passing, they’re helping their family too,” said Shirley.
“I would like to thank each and every person that’s supported the coffee morning, given their time and donated raffle prizes.
“If we can inspire even two or three other people to have a coffee morning, it’ll be worth it. I get a lot more out of it than I give.
“If they saw what I saw when I lost my friends, they wouldn’t think twice about it. I do it to remember them, and I’ll never forget them.”
Shirley held her coffee morning last week as she will be abroad when the annual coffee morning fundraiser event will take place on September 22.
You can register to host a coffee morning on Thursday, September 22, or on a date that suits you, at www.hospicecoffeemorning.ie or call-save 0818 995 996.
Hosts are provided with a free coffee morning pack containing Bewley’s coffee, posters and invitations.