independent

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Sr Helena retires for third time from maternity ward

Padraig Byrne

Published 21/01/2014 | 05:38

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Sr Helena O’Brien (front, centre) with colleagues past and present at a function held in Wexford Golf Club to mark her retirement

IT WAS the end of an era at Wexford General Hospital recently as Sr Helena O'Brien bid farewell after a total of 27 years in the Maternity Ward there.

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This, however, is not the first time that Sr Helena, a native of Gusserane, has called time on her nursing career. In fact it's the third time she's retired, but she insists this time it's final.

'Previously I retired around eight years ago,' Sr Helena said. 'I left because my mum wasn't well at the time. Eventually I was invited back after a few months. I lasted another five years then before I said I'd finish again. That was three years ago and I ended up coming back again. This time however will be the last time, and I'm definitely finished now!'

Sr Helena originally trained as a nurse at Wexford County Hospital from 1966 to 1969 and has travelled around a fair bit since, working and living in England, Rome, Dublin, Kilkenny, Drogheda and Ennis before returning to Wexford, working a total of 49 years as a nurse.

'I was very fortunate to get back to Wexford,' she said. 'The hospital closed in Ennis and I gott a job in the Wexford Maternity Unit in 1987.'

Sr Helena has a great passion for her work and saying that she doesn't know what else she could have done. 'Working in Labour wards - that's really been my scene,' she said. 'Delivering babies is all I know and I wouldn't know how to do anything else. I honestly couldn't put a figure on how many babies I've delivered in Wexford over the years. They've flowed in and out and you don't really keep count!'

Now that the time has come to finish up, Sr Helena says that she will dearly miss all of the staff at the hospital who have been great friends to her through the years. 'They've become like my family over the years and are very loyal friends. I'm a hospital person really...that has been my life for the past 49 years.'

While Sr Helena is sad to be finishing up, she has big plans for the coming year.

'I'm going to have a well-earned rest now and I'm heading to Australia for ten weeks at the end of the month to visit some of my John of God sisters and friends out there. I think it makes leaving that bit easier and I'm really looking forward to it and to leaving this cold weather for a while.'

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