Lucy Carty, who will receive a letter from President Michael D Higgins next month to mark her 102nd birthday, helped him unveil a plaque at St Patrick’s Marymount Hospice, Cork, with former Marymount patient May Downey.
“It’s really lovely here,” said Ms Carty. “There is more space and it’s more open compared to Wellington Road.”
Ms Downey, from Douglas, said: “The staff, facilities and the atmosphere here are amazing.
“I didn’t want to go home when my time to leave came. The staff deserve all the credit they get. I’ve never seen anything like the care and love they give.”
St Patrick’s Marymount, which has provided care in Cork since 1870, transferred from its Wellington Rd base to the new complex in Curraheen in September, almost 10 years after the project was first mooted.
When fully operational, the facility will deliver a 44-bed hospice, providing a comprehensive specialist palliative care programme, and a 63-bed hospital for the care of older people, providing intermediate palliative care, continuing care, and respite care.
Mr Higgins praised the institution and its staff. “Those staff have brought comfort and reassurance to countless numbers over the years at times when we, as human beings, are at our most vulnerable,” he said.
“At times like that, people experiencing emotional and physical upheaval may forget to thank those caring people in the hospital environment for all they do for us and others.
“The lasting impression of St Patrick’s and Marymount is reflected, however, in the affection and pride held in the hearts and minds of local people for this place.”
Cillian Twomey, chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, told the 500-plus guests at the opening ceremony that the development of the complex was a huge achievement, especially given the prevailing economic circumstances.
Prof Twomey thanked the Friends of St Patrick’s and Marymount, and the people of Cork, who contributed €24m towards the project.
The HSE provided €14m, and the Atlantic Philanthropies, the international philanthropic organisation established by Chuck Feeney, contributed a further €10m.
St Luke’s Home Mahon donated €1m towards the cost of the day care unit.
The balance will come from the proceeds of the sale of the Wellington Rd property, and local fundraising.
The hospital needs to raise €2m a year to maintain its services.