There has been a huge outpouring of community support for 86-year-old Mary Nolan, who was attacked and robbed outside her home in Kilkenny City last week.
Mary remains in a serious but stable condition in St Luke’s Hospital, but the initial anger and revulsion that followed the attack has been catalysed into offers of help and support. Local people and businesses are showing their community spirit, coming forward in droves in response to an appeal from local Councillor Andrew McGuinness and Brenda Bolger.
From home-security systems and residential care, to offers of window cleaning and hair-dressing appointments – an entire community has mobilised to do what it can to help. It began with a Facebook post by Cllr McGuinness, voicing his anger at what had happened.
The post soon attracted over 60 comments – many expressing their outrage over the attack – but others asked if there was anything they could do to help. One of those was Brenda Bolger from Ballyfoyle, and between themselves, the pair decided to try and turn the anger into something positive.
“We put out a post the following day, and got a huge response from people willing to donate their time, services and support,” says Cllr McGuinness.
“Within five minutes of the post going up, Abbey Automation and Controls from out on the Freshford Road, had called to donate a full alarm system for Mary’s house. Sentry Security want to donate their services too.”
Other offers of support soon followed.
Teach Eilis, a B&B on the Freshford Road near St Luke’s Hospital, offered to put up any of Mary’s family while they visit their her in the hospital, as her relatives do not live locally. Drakelands Nursing Home also offered to donate their services and expertise, while Studio 1 offered a hair-dressing appointment to cheer her up.
“Loads of other individuals have said they will help in any way they can,” says Cllr McGuinness.
“Anything from running errands, calling in on her, to cleaning her windows for her or cutting her hair.
Cllr McGuinness and Ms Bolger are now waiting for Mary’s health to improve before further action can be taken. The pair have made contact with her relatives, although understandably, the family is presently focusing efforts on getting her back to health.
Cllr McGuinness said that social changes and issues such as emigration meant that many elderly people were isolated or living alone. He said that funding and grants were less available than in the past, and that this sort of community spirit was needed to bridge the gap.
“This is community spirit at its best,” he said.
“There was such huge anger that an elderly woman could be mugged outside her own home in broad daylight. People begin to think ‘I have a granny’ or ‘there’s an elderly woman living down the road’.
“It can be hard to find a positive in a situation like this, but one silver lining is the fantastic community spirit we are seeing,” he said
“It’s just from a simple call for help on Facebook, and there was so much goodwill shown. Anyone can make a difference.
“We plan to harness this and maybe in time set up a charity or trust to raise funds or provide services for elderly people – even something as simple as calling in on them to make sure they are okay.”
Druida Nua will play a gig in the Hole in the Wall this evening to raise funds to help Mary get back on her feet when she gets out of hospital.