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Working in the shadow of Covid-19, Eilish has been an inspiration to all around her

    

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Inspirational: Marie Byrne (left) has nominated  Eilish Walsh (right), who works at St. Francis Hospice in Raheny, as a frontline star of the week

Inspirational: Marie Byrne (left) has nominated Eilish Walsh (right), who works at St. Francis Hospice in Raheny, as a frontline star of the week

Inspirational: Marie Byrne (left) has nominated Eilish Walsh (right), who works at St. Francis Hospice in Raheny, as a frontline star of the week

Palliative care nurse Eilish Walsh has been hailed "an inspiration" by those closest to her, who are in awe at how hard she has worked throughout Covid-19.

For the past 20 years, Ms Walsh (49) has worked with St Francis Hospice in Raheny, Dublin 5.

She has made sure her patients are still receiving face-to-face end-of-life care despite the added challenge of Covid-19. And with a family to care for at home, she says she has not had a day off since lockdown began.

Today, Ms Walsh is named as the Irish Independent Frontline Star of the Week.

She said lockdown has been "without a shadow of a doubt the most difficult time" of her career.

She said: "It was really difficult and stressful because with our job, we work as a team and we get our support from each other and we couldn't get that support because we were all in different offices. Some of the nurses were working remotely from home and phoning patients.

"Not only were you working on your own and visiting on your own, you couldn't actually get to see your colleagues because every meeting was on a Zoom, even though we were based in the office as far as possible."

She said it was important to stay in touch with patients as for some families, the hospice staff were their "only port of call".

"Patients were almost afraid to see us, and yet they needed to see us, and families were very frightened. It was so difficult for families trying to look after their loved ones with nurses not visiting as much or carers not coming in because of their fears of the virus," she added.

"The stress of having a smaller staff - and it's not as if you can bring in staff somewhere else. It is such a specialised area."

Eilish, a mother of three, said her children feared she would bring the virus home.

"I do have my support network, my husband is amazing. My teenagers were good, but at the same time it was all about them. I have one doing the Leaving Certificate, which didn't happen, and one in fifth year, and a 12-year-old. Their concerns were if I would be bringing Covid back to the house."

Ms Walsh was nominated by her close friend, Marie Byrne.

Ms Byrne recalled how Ms Walsh cared for her late father before he passed away.

"She helped me through when my father died five years ago towards the end of his life. He only got home for four days, but in that time she had never met him before, but she bounced into the room," she said.

"She's an inspiration. I saw her being both professional, but still a bundle of joy. If we could all have a little dose of what she has, we'd be doing well. I can just imagine her lifting everybody's spirits that she goes in to see. Yet, she's so professional."

Ms Byrne added that her friend was shocked to hear she had nominated her for this award, but touched too.

For more than 60 years, the Irish Independent has honoured the Sportstar of the Week. This year, our nation has faced a challenge far beyond our sporting fields. To nominate, email your submission (100 words max) with a photo, telling us about your nominee to frontlinestar@independent.ie

Irish Independent