An epitomy of the spirit of volunteerism

An epitomy of the spirit of volunteerism

The funeral of Kathleen O'Brien last Saturday morning bore testament to her large role in many aspects of Portlaoise life, during the past few decades.

Her role in Tidy Towns, and the Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee was integral, and this is just to touch on some aspects of her many and varied work, interests and causes.

Many tributes have been paid to Kathleen since her death last week.

It's worth reiterating, however, her tireless rate of work and endeavour for her local community and how she gave of her time and energy selflessly and often without any consideration of herself.

Her ongoing battle with illness made this all the more remarkable.

In his sermon at the Funeral Mass on Saturday, Fr Paddy Byrne implored the public to continue the campaign for retention of services at Portlaoise Hospital in memory of her.

He noted her determination and steadfastness in going through with a public meeting on the hospital last summer, when many doubted it would be a success, and counselled against it.

The type of community activism as typified by Kathleen O’Brien is something that every community should acknowledge.

We all know, and have known people like this, anchors and drivers of their own areas, who give of their time voluntarily and are, invariably, always generous with it.

They are the unsung heroes of towns and villages across the county and country, and many organisation and groups depend on them.

Many never seek any form of recognition for this, nor do they wish it.

They are quite happy to labour away in their own places, for the betterment of all.

There is a sense that this type of activism is disappearing and that it may be lost altogether with the passing of a generation.

In an age when communicaiton is often conducted at a remove from personal contact there is a risk of this.

It would be a shame if this were to happen.

The spirit of volunteerism is something that should always be cultivated and harnessed.

We all live in communities and the importance of working together should always be a priority.