independent

Monday 19 November 2018

Remembering the 'Matron of Guy's'

TOM'S WARTIME NURSE TALE ON RADIO 1

FERGAL MADDOCK

RUSH RESIDENT Tom Rowley has had one of his short stories broadcast at the weekend on the popular RTE radio programme of music and musings, Sunday Miscellany.

While Tom has had his stories featured on the programme in the past, last Sunday's broadcast breaks new ground for him as it was recorded in front of a live audience and not in the studio in RTE. His story, called 'Matron of Guy's', was recorded recently before a packed audience in the Westport Cineplex as part of the Rolling Sun Book Festival in the Co. Mayo town 'Matron of Guy's' is the story of Emily MacManus, an Irishwoman who had a fascinating life in nursing. She died in Co. Mayo in 1978 at the age of 92. Her autobiography, entitled Matron of Guy's, was published in the 1950s and followed her life as a nurse for over three years behind the trenches of World War One in France and later her pioneering work in nursing culminating in her appointment as matron of the world famous Guy's Hospital in London in 1927. She was matron of the hospital throughout World War Two during which it was bombed by the Germans a number of times. She eventually retired to a fishing lodge at Pontoon in Co. Mayo and it was at that stage Tom got to know her as a boy growing up in that part of the county. 'She was an extraordinary woman who had been involved in the theatres of the two world wars,' said Tom, who lives on Palmer Road in Rush. 'When I got to know her as a boy she was then into her 70s but she was still very active, fishing, writing and rearing goats which was one of her great loves. 'I always felt she was something of a forgotten figure and I am delighted Sunday Miscellany was interested in broadcasting my story about her and her contribution to history and nursing. Before she died in 1978 she had one last very strange, and beautiful, request but people will have to listen to the programme to find out what that was.' Tom is a former journalist and news editor with the Irish Independent, a press advisor for over a decade to the late Government Minister, Seamus Brennan. He was also the communications manager with Irish Rail on the now mothballed DART Underground transport project.

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