The music of 21 drumers welcomed Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald to Cuan Mhuire in Athy County Kildare as the addiction treatment centre celebrated its 50th anniversary over the weekend.
Sister Consilio started the addictions clinic back in 1966 which since then has helped over 75,000 people with alcohol, gambling and drug addictions in its five centres around the country. On any given day 600 people are in treatment at Cuan Mhuire’s centres.
Although not related Sister Consilio and the Tánaiste both share the same surname. Both ladies walked hand in hand as Sister Consilio gave the Tánaiste a guided tour of the recently developed garden and of the centres facilities.
Before planting a holly bush in the garden at the centre the Tánaiste addressed the gathered crowd of well over 200 people saying,
“Thank you for the wonderful welcome and for the gorgeous drumming. This is an important time to celebrate; this is a real marker of a really important anniversary. If you get to 50 in anything it’s great. I have met Sister Consilio for the first time tonight but I’m hooked.
“ I think once you meet Sister Consilio you are hooked. That might not be the correct word to use but you are hooked. I asked Sister Consilio where she lives and she gave me a wonderful answer, she said that she lives wherever she is needed. Life can be tough for people with day to day challenges, nobody is excluded. The services here represent reaching out to people who face challenging times. I would like to pay tribute to Sister Consilio and to the Sisters of Mercy.”
The Tánaiste told of her years working as a social worker in badly hit areas of Dublin before she entered politics 20 years ago and that she knew of the fantastic services that were available at Cuan Mhuire even back then.
“Alcohol and drugs are social issues that we really need to deal with. I need to learn from a place like Cuan Mhuire on how to intercept addiction and how to reach out to people and their families who are affected by them. I can see that the people here are wonderful people. You can see immediately as you come in through the gate that pride is clearly taken by everyone here.”
Sister Consilio gave a short talk,
“It is great to welcome the Tánaiste here this evening. How much we look forward to her next visit when she comes again. The clients worked extremely hard over the past number of weeks to make her visit here a wonderful experience.
“They are all wonderful people and you wouldn’t get the likes of them anywhere, I am really proud of every one of them. They rushed around with wheelbarrows and rakes and all kinds of tools and they prayed that the freshly planted grass seeds would come up before she came,” she said.
Also in attendance at the event were Ivan Keatley, Mayor of Kildare and Kildare South Fine Gael TD Martin Haydon.