Life in an Irish hospice: ‘I’m freaking people out by saying I’m not afraid of death — but I’m not. I’m afraid of dying in pain, but that’s not going to happen here’

Often thought of as a place people go to die, to the patients receiving extraordinary palliative care at Our Lady’s Hospice in Dublin, it’s a place to live. We speak to some of them about living in the now and having difficult conversations with family and hear from staff and volunteers

Patients at Our Lady's Hospice in Dublin talk about their experiences of palliative care

Tanya Sweeeny

The rhythm of quotidian life — the buses, the road rage, the coffee shop queues — ebbs away as you make your way up the avenue of Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services in Harold’s Cross. The main reception lies fewer than 200 metres from the newly trendy Dublin 6 neighbourhood, but feels like a different world altogether. And yet life, in its messiest, most complex, most painful and often most beautiful iterations, very much goes on in each of its 36 rooms. “You may think it’s a place people come to die, but really it’s a place where people come to live,” is something you hear countless times here.