On Wednesday last, a very special visit took place at St. Luke’s Hospital. The Liam McCarthy Cup was brought around the hospital to be inspected, handled and held high by patients, visitors and staff . It received a rapturous welcome. An equally big welcome was extended to four members of the team that is considererd Kilkenny’s greatest hurling team. Captain Eoin Larkin, Michael Rice, Jackie Tyrell and Tommy Walsh. The hospital was a sea of black and amber and the sheer delight on the patient’s faces was a joy to behold. Many of the patients had been waiting all day for the players to arrive and one female patient even had her hair put in curlers especially for the occasion!
The players, along with the inimitable Rackard Cody, made their way slowly through the hospital, chatting to everyone, shaking hands and posing for photographs. The excitement was palpable and the atmosphere was electric. Four patients on Medical 1 ward, along with the staff, formed a guard of honour while the players and the cup came through.
In the Childrens Ward, there was a double celebration. The Liam McCarthy Cup and a Junior B All Ireland medal met up for the first time. Joanne Joyce, a staff nurse on the ward, was the proud winner of the medal. She plays for Myshall who have won 13 consecutive Senior titles. And of course she plays with Carlow’s County Team for which she won her medal. Myshall (along with Joanne) are playing in the Leinster Final next Saturday against Kilmessan, a County Meath team. Peter Blanchfield, a patient who attends the ward, and his younger brother John, got to meet and chat with the players. Peter had been at the All Ireland match in a corporate box, thanks to the Share A Dream Foundation.
On Surgical 1 Ward, after the male patients had been visited by the players, it was a female patient who stole the show. She treated the players and Rackard Cody to a wonderful rendition of The Rose of Mooncoin. The smile on her face afterwards said it all. When the players moved onto the next patient, she said: “That was fabulous” Another patient said it was “worth coming into hospital, just to meet the players and to see the cup”. An extra ‘coup’ on the day was the sight of Tipperary born and reared Hospital Manager, Anne Slattery holding the Liam McCarthy cup with team members around her for a photo. Jackie Tyrell went to the Intensive Care Unit to visit a patient who is a Kilkenny supporter true and true, who had specifically requested to see Jackie. These players are not just top sportsmen. They are extremely patient, kind, caring and generous especially with their time. This side of them shone through last Wednesday. The benefit to all the patients they visited was obvious and the ‘feel good factor’ that everyone felt was immeasurable.
Everyone in the hospital is extremely proud of the senior county team. But after Wednesday’s visit, they are held in even higher esteem.
The O’Neill Centre run by Enable Ireland was no different with children and staff alike delighted with the players and there were lots of smiles and hugs and memories to cherish forever.