Medal of Merit for Wicklow’s ‘Humanity Rose’

Home News And Events Medal of Merit for Wicklow’s ‘Humanity Rose’

Arklow Woman, Rose Harte, was today awarded with the Irish Red Cross Medal of Merit for her role in setting up and running an emergency field hospital during the 1982 ‘Big Freeze’.

In January 1982 Ireland was brought to a near standstill by snowstorms that lasted three weeks and resulted in snow drifts of up to six feet.  Many areas were snowed in, including Arklow in Wicklow. 

“We were cut off from the rest of the world”, says Rose Harte.  Seeing a need for medical care for Arklow and the surrounding area Rose, a volunteer with the Irish Red Cross, approached the Sisters of Mercy who agreed to let her use the assembly hall in the local boarding school as a field hospital.

Along with her fellow Irish Red Cross Volunteers, Rose cared for pregnant women, the sick and those who had broken arms and legs in the icy conditions.  For those snowed into their homes Rose and Dr Seamus Ryan, local Irish Red Cross medic, rode on the back of a tractor to ensure that they received food, provisions and, when needed, life saving medicine.

On being presented with the award from Irish Red Cross Chairman, David J O’Callaghan, Rose said, “I accept this on behalf of all the Arklow Unit volunteers for their tremendous work and would like to thank everyone involved.  This was a real community effort.”

The Irish Red Cross Medal of Merit rewards volunteers and others who have rendered exceptional service in a particular incident.  The medal was last awarded in 2010, to Dermot Cranny of Bray recognising his bravery during a 1965 rescue operation following an accident in which a car plunged into the River Dargle. 

Every year, Irish Red Cross volunteers around Ireland, are on hand to assist people affected by floods, severe winter conditions and to help members of the community who are vulnerable and in need of support.

For more information on the Irish Red Cross activities in Ireland and overseas please see

Press release 23.10.2012

For more information please contact Rebecca Dunne, Communications Executive, Irish Red Cross, 087 743 3275