Award-winning Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon has created a short film narrated by Moone Boy star Chris O’Dowd especially for children going into hospital for an operation.

The film, the only resource of its kind in Ireland, was developed for Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in Dublin.

Called Ben and Tara’s Visit to the Hospital, the film will be used to help prepare younger children coming to the hospital for surgery.

The film explains very simply what happens when a child arrives at the hospital for surgery and opens with relaxing guitar music and bird song.

“It’s a lovely morning here at Temple Street Children’s Hospital,” says O’Dowd, who introduces Ben and Tara.

“Hello, everyone. This is us lying on a bed in the ward. You will have a bed like ours too,” says Ben.

“Ooh, that is a comfy looking bed alright,” says O’Dowd, who shows the viewer some things they might see at the hospital while Ben and Tara settle in.

The viewer then sees Ben getting ready for surgery.

“That is a theatre gown. Isn’t it cool? A funny looking hat. Ooh, a TV! No, it’s not a TV. Ah, it’s a blood pressure monitor” says O’Dowd.

Afterwards, when Ben and Tara are feeling better, they go home with their mammy for a nice, well-deserved treat. “Yum, yum,” says O’Dowd.

Chris O’Dowd
Chris O’Dowd

Cartoon Saloon is the company behind Oscar-nominated films The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, as well as the TV series Puffin Rock.

The Kilkenny-based company donated its time and expertise over the past year to develop the film.

Ben and Tara’s Visit to the Hospital will be screened at Temple Street’s pre-admission club, held every month so children will know what to expect.

Ben and Tara, the hospital’s mascot dolls, are also used as a visual aid so that children will feel comfortable with stethoscopes, blood pressure machines and thermometers.

Temple Street’s senior play specialist, Caroline Flynn, said they were hugely grateful to the team at Cartoon Saloon for taking time out of their hectic schedules to develop the video.

“It is a fantastic tool for children to demystify the whole process of having an operation and help allay their fears before coming to the hospital,” said Ms Flynn.

“By explaining the process in clear and understandable terms to children, it not only greatly reduces their anxiety in advance of the operation but also improves co-operation during procedures.”

Ms Flynn said they wanted to express their warm thanks to O’Dowd for narrating the film.

“We are absolutely thrilled that he lent his voice to the project,” she said.

Cartoon Saloon chief operations officer Catherine Roycroft said they were delighted to help children prepare to have an operation.

“For us, working with Caroline and the teams in the hospital to make the whole operation process even a little bit easier has been inspirational and educational,” said Ms Roycroft.

“We are lucky to have had the chance to see the great work the Temple Street team are doing each day for the children of Ireland and be able to support them in the best way we know how.”

The video will also be available at so children all over the country can see it.


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