Arklow woman awarded the Irish Red Cross Medal of Merit
By Nevan Riley
Arklow woman Rose Harte has been awarded the Irish Red Cross Medal of Merit for her role in setting up and running an emergency field hospital during the 1982 ‘Big Freeze’.
In January 1982 Ireland was brought to a near standstill by snowstorms that lasted three weeks and resulted in snow drifts of up to six feet. Many areas were snowed in, including Arklow.
Seeing a need for medical care for Arklow and the surrounding area Rose, a volunteer with the Irish Red Cross, approached the Sisters of Mercy who agreed to let her use the assembly hall in St Mary’s College as a field hospital.
Along with her fellow Irish Red Cross Volunteers, Rose cared for pregnant women, the elderly and those who suffered injuries from the icy conditions. Rose also tended to those who were left stranded in their homes, riding to their rescue on the back of a tractor with local Irish Red Cross medic, Dr Seamus Ryan. Between them, Rose and Dr Ryan ensured that people received food, provisions and, when needed, life saving medicine.
On being presented with the award from Irish Red Cross Chairman, David J O’Callaghan, Rose said, “I accept this on behalf of all the Arklow Unit volunteers for their tremendous work and would like to thank everyone involved. This was a real community effort.”
The Irish Red Cross Medal of Merit rewards volunteers and others who have rendered exceptional service in a particular incident. The medal was last awarded in 2010, to Dermot Cranny of Bray recognising his bravery during a 1965 rescue operation following an accident in which a car plunged into the River Dargle.
Every year, Irish Red Cross volunteers around Ireland, are on hand to assist people affected by floods, severe winter conditions and to help members of the community who are vulnerable and in need of support.