Alliance Support Group

December 2012 Archives

Bethany Home campaign

Bethany Home campaign


Sir, – The newly enthroned Archbishop of Armagh Dr Richard Clarke said in an interview on RTÉ radio (December 23rd) that the Bethany Home in Dublin has not crossed his “radar”. He also said (prefaced with “I am not saying this evasively”), that it was not “technically” a Church of Ireland home. However, Dr Clarke started the interview by associating himself with the work of Barnardos, also not technically part of the Church of Ireland.

The former residents of the Bethany Home would appreciate it if Dr Clarke could associate himself and his office in a tangible manner with the Bethany Home campaign. In addition to a pledge of support, Dr Clarke could visit Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin, where 219 Bethany children lie in adjoining plots in unmarked graves. Most were members of the Church of Ireland. Most who survived Bethany were also members of the Church of Ireland. If Dr Clarke would like to meet us to arrange this, such an invitation would be most welcome. – Yours, etc,


Bethany Survivors Group,

Southey Road,

Rugby, England.

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Towards Healing Counselling Services

Towards Healing Counselling Services

Christmas and New Year arrangements


Towards Healing will operate an extended opening hours project (outside of normal Towards Healing opening times (Monday & Wednesday 11am – 8pm and Fridays 11am – 4pm) as follows:-

The extended opening hours service will Commence at 8.00pm Monday  night December 17th  2012.

When you call the Towards Healing helpline out of hours you will be given the choice of leaving a message or being redirected to a support person who will be able to assist you and offer support.


Towards Healing contact Numbers are


(Irl) 1 800 303 416


 UK and Northern Ireland


0800 096 3315

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December 2012


Dear Colleague,


I am pleased to inform you that Connect will operate a continuous service throughout the Christmas and New Year period.


Full details are listed below:


Wednesday    19 December                                      6.00pm --10.00pm

Thursday       20 December                                     6.00pm – 10.00pm

Friday             21 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Saturday        22 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Sunday           23 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Monday          24 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Tuesday          25 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Wednesday    26 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Thursday       27 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Friday             28 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Saturday        29 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Sunday           30 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Monday          31 December                                      6.00pm – 10.00pm

Tuesday          1 January                                           6.00pm – 10.00pm

Wednesday    2 January                                           6.00pm --10.00pm

Thursday       3 January                                           6.00pm – 10.00pm

Friday             4 January                                           6.00pm – 10.00pm

Saturday        5 January                                           6.00pm – 10.00pm

Sunday           6 January                                           6.00pm – 10.00pm



To contact Connect call:

IRELAND                                         1 800 477 477

U.K. & NORTHERN IRELAND   00 800 477 477 77


Regular service will resume on Wednesday 9 January 2013 as follows:

Wednesday through to Sunday: 6.00pm – 10.00pm


On behalf of Connect we would like to take this opportunity of wishing you, your staff members a Happy Christmas and a bright & prosperous New Year.


Yours sincerely



Theresa Merrigan



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Artane days stayed with ship crooner


John Ryan on the cruise ship Canberra, where he worked as an entertainer, singing Frank Sinatra songs. photograph: will oliver, date unknown



In life, singer Matt Munro was a favourite of Dubliner John Ryan. In death, the strains of the crooner’s Softly As I Leave You greeted mourners as they gathered for his funeral this week.


The congregation at Golders Green crematorium in north London was small but select – friends Ryan had made over years attending the London-Irish Centre’s elderly lunch club.

Few of them, however, knew of his past: of life in Dolphin’s Barn and then of years – too painful to speak about afterwards to all but a handful, and then only briefly – in the Artane industrial school in Dublin.

Born in 1928, Ryan’s mother and father, Annie and James, died of TB before he was 12: the nine children went into homes, the four boys to Artane. He never knew where his sisters had been taken.

For being an orphan, Ryan was sentenced to 4½ years for “destitution”, though he refused to go before the Residential Institutions Redress Board for compensation.

“He didn’t want to go there, too many memories, none of them good. He said he saw his brothers frequently at the beginning but over time they were placed in separate sections,” said Cllr Sally Mulready.

“By the time he left he did not know whether his brothers had left before him, or were still there when he left. In any case, he never saw them again,” she told The Irish Times.

Mulready had frequent contact in the London Irish Centre with Ryan, who spent years singing on cruise ships, in the weeks before he died in early November.

“He said to me, ‘I am really worried that they will put me down a hole when I die. I don’t want to be buried down a hole. I am just a nobody and nobody will care’,” she went on.

In late October, the two travelled to Levitons funeral directors in Camden to make arrangements: “The taxi driver – he was an Asian man – asked us if we were going to a funeral.

“John said ‘I am going to see my own funeral. I want to see what it’s like’. He had a dry sense of humour. The driver swung around in his seat, totally taken by the story,” she continued.

No priest or prayers

The undertaker asked his religion. “That was a long time ago. I want no priest or prayers at my funeral. I just want to go,” replied the single 84-year-old.

Ryan and Mulready left Levitons and went to his bank, where he drew down a cheque for £3,093 to pay for his last rites. “He was a happy man coming back,” she commented.

Less than a fortnight later, he contracted septicaemia and was rushed from his sheltered accommodation in Camden to University College Hospital in Euston.

Before drifting into unconsciousness, he named Mulready as his next-of-kin, leaving her to organise a simple ceremony in Golders Green in accordance with his wishes.

Most of them in their 70s and 80s, and all Irish, the dozen-and-a-half mourners were discomfited by the lack of a religious service, but they complied, despite quiet murmurs of unhappiness.

Mary Allen read Yeats’s Lake Isle of Innisfree, while Ann Sherwin sang Smiling Through, a song made famous by Richard Tauber. “He had a philosophy of smiling through,” said Mulready.

Failing to hold back the tears, Maria Connolly, one of those who run the popular lunch club in Camden, was, nevertheless, joyful that so many had come to mark his passing.

“I will always remember him. The world goes on, but you wonder why it doesn’t stop because such a lovely man has gone,” she said, speaking just feet from his funeral bier.

The people in the pews were asked for memories or tributes.

Neighbour, Eddie Carey, originally from Mitchelstown, Co Cork said: “I never knew that he was in that hell-hole of a place.”

Later, back in the London Irish Centre, where he went three times a week, it was clear that Ryan had told few, if any, of the dark Artane days.

Penny Clune, from Ballina, Co Tipperary sat beside him for two years before he mentioned it, and then only briefly: “He just said he couldn’t talk about it, just said that they were bad. He didn’t bring it up afterwards.”

Shared memories

If Artane was a past not to be reopened, Ryan happily shared memories of his days on the cruise ships “singing Frankie Sinatra” all over the world: “In the photographs, he was absolutely stunning”, she said with a smile.

The photographs of days on board the PO flagship SS Canberra were carefully kept in his flat in Ashton Court on the Camden Road, often still in much-thumbed company display cards.

Back in Golders Green, his coffin retreated behind the heavy metal doors, flanked by green curtains, to the sound of Seán O’Riada’s Mise Éire.

For now, his ashes will stay there, as Mulready tries to track his relations. “We’ll scatter his ashes there in a year, or so, if we can’t find them.

“Or maybe we’ll take them to Dublin and cast them into the Liffey. He was proud of being Irish, despite everything. Yes, maybe we’ll do that,” she told The Irish Times.

His death certificate lists the details of his life and passing simply: John Joseph Ryan, born December 16th, 1928, died November 2nd, 2012. Labourer, Singer and Showman (Retired).

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