In 1939, 17 year old Moirín was recruited to volunteer with the Cork City Branch of the Irish Red Cross.
Twice a week she would set off on her bicycle for the Cheshire Homes, a journey which took her over half an hour each way. The Cheshire Homes was a residential facility for people with mental and physical disabilities. As a volunteer, a young Moirín assisted the staff there in their daily duties, tending to the personal and physical care of the residents. During this time, Moirín took part in a Home Nursing Course provided by the Irish Red Cross. Her many certificates go back to 1940.
Some years later, Moirín started a family. Her sons remember walking into Cork city centre to participate in the Corpus Christi procession. Their mother always joined the Red Cross section, in uniform with her infamous white kit bag. Moirín, along with her fellow Irish Red Cross nurses, also took part in the 1942 Cluster of Brigades parade in Patricks Street in Cork City passing the reviewing stand of President De Valera.
Moirín has received many awards, one of which was the An Ranna Cabhair Deontaca Cumann Croise Deirge na h-Eireann (Emergency Service Medal Presented to the Irish Red Cross). During The Emergency, there were 11 different types of medal issued for service. The front of each medal was the same design with the back having different text for each of the different organizations who rendered service during the War. The medal was awarded by the Minister of Defence. Moiríns medal was presented in recognition for the assistance that Moirín gave during the Belfast bombings in 1942.
During her time with the Irish Red Cross, Moirín has met all 9 Presidents of Ireland and has many photographs of herself with Presidents Eamon DeValera and Séan T O'Ceallaigh, to name but a few. On those presidential visits she has received Irish Red Cross service awards for 25 years, 50 years and 60 years.
Moirín has just entered her 9th decade and her 7th decade as an Irish Red Cross member. Her vast knowledge of the history of the Irish Red Cross is phenomenal. Her many stories of the Irish Red Cross will be carried for many decades to come through Moiríns family who have a very keen interest in her activities as a volunteer. The Irish Red Cross would like to thank Moirín for taking time out to tell her very interesting story and wish her continued good health.
With thanks to:
Mrs Moirín Ní Mhurch and her family for taking the time to share their Red Cross story
Barry O'Donovan and Jonathan Tyner for words and images.