My name is Tim Kelly and I first met my late wife Kathleen Kelly in Dublin in 1960 or thereabouts. I was in the Guards. She was also in the Guards. She was one of the first 12 bean gardai, as they were then known, to join the force. We got engaged in December 1961 and we got married on the 27th December 1962. We moved to Donegal on the 5th April 1963 where we have been ever since. We have a family of five, three boys and two girls. We had a very good life together. She was a very good wife and a very good mother. She was a wonderful person.
In August 2005 she went to her local GP here and she had a chat with her. She referred her straight away up to the oncology unit in Letterkenny Hospital and they arranged for a mammogram and she had a mastectomy then. On the 2nd May 2006 she was referred up to St Luke’s in Rathgar for radium treatment then after that she was on medication if that’s what you’d call it, and after five years she was given the all clear. About three years or so down the line it started to manifest itself again and she had some scans or x-rays and they referred her up to St James’ Hospital in Dublin where she had biopsies done there which confirmed that she had cancer in the left lung, the breast cancer that had metastasised to the lung.
The cancer always found a way of getting around the treatment. She was always complaining about a pain here or a pain there and she was on pain relief tablets and all that and she went down to our local GP. He said to her look Kathleen, he said, “You’re at the maximum of what I can give you,” and he said: “I could refer you to palliative care if you wouldn’t mind?” So she replied, “I wouldn’t mind that at all.” So he made the necessary arrangements and they called to the house here. So they put her on medication for pain relief.
So then it reached a point then like where they suggested that she might go into the hospice for some respite for a week, which she agreed to and she went in, she went in there about two years ago. Then on the last occasion she was there, she went in there around the 10th of February of this year. And she was there until she passed away on the 24th April of this year as well. When this COVID thing broke they kept it open for as long as they possibly could and it came to the point anyway and they had to bring in restrictions. We were still able to go up and outside the room where she was there was a veranda, and we were able to get up there on that and we were able to talk to her in through the window.
But then in the end on the Tuesday morning, before she passed away, they called us about half past ten and they wanted us up. So, myself and my son John went up, but from that Tuesday, until she passed at 9 o’clock on the Friday night, I was sitting beside her holding her hand. And they were so so accommodating and it meant so much to us.
My late wife was admitted to the hospice in early July and prior to that she had received an invitation from the Commissioner to attend in Farmleigh House on the 9th July to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of women joining the Garda Siochana. Kathleen was in the hospice obviously at the time so she couldn’t go there. The nurses up in the hospice heard about it. They rang John to see if we would mind they having a bit of a do and we said okay no problem and they rang the local station and got a couple of the Gardai in the local station, men and women, up to the hospice where they made a presentation to Kathleen of a bouquet of flowers and a lovely vase to commemorate the occasion. A couple of days later then one of the local ladies in the Letterkenny Gardai Station arrived up to Kathleen with a beautiful scarf from the Commissioner to be presented to her.
It’s all about the patient, the patient is number one and their comfort and their well-being. And I will be for ever eternally grateful to them for all they did for us.