Emily spent Christmas in Dublin working in the Meath Hospital, as the flu epidemic showed no sign of abating. Her house on Achill was occupied by her friend Eva O’Flaherty, who kept the home fires burning while Emily attended to to sick. That year there were more patients than usual as the said flu epidemic and the soldiers war needed hospitalization.
Emily’s niece Enid (Siobhan), from Australia, who lived with her was in Dublin too. Like her aunt, she also became a nurse. In the winter of 1918 she was still in training. Nothing could have put her on a better learning curve than nursing children through the Spanish Flu. In a letter to Margo Trench, Emily conveyed the difficulties they were encountering as nurses during that trying time.
Below is an excerpt from the Irish Times of December 27th 1918, describing Christmas at Emily’s workplace, the Meath Hospital. The hospital was decorated for the season and gifts were left by philanthropists. The men on the wards were given a special treat of a pipe and tobacco, as in back then it was not considered a health hazard.
MEATH HOSPITAL AND COUNTY DUBLIN INFIRMARY
The entrance hall was very tastefully decorated with holly, ivy and flags and the wards were neat and orderly. Large tables were arranged on the different landings and laden with a great profusion of Christmas delicacies, the gifts of numbers of ladies and gentlemen who take an interest in the hospital. Several soldiers are at present patients and their comforts, as well as those of the other sufferers, were well looked after. All rules, as far as possible were relaxed for the occasion.
Mr. Francis Penros, the Secretary; Miss Broadbourne, R.R.C. Matron; Mr. Tivy and Mr. Hill, House Surgeons, assisted by Sister Nellie, Sister Murphy, Sister Veron, Assistant Matron, were indefatigable, in their exertions to see that all the patients who could partake of it had a good supply turkey and plum pudding and other comforts. Mr. Thomas (Messrs, Kapp and Peterson) presented the male patients with a good supply of tobacco and pipe as he does every year.
Irish Times 27 December 1918
MS 46 328/2 Coffey and Chenevix Trench papers, 1868-2007. National Library of Ireland. Department of Manuscripts.
Evening Despatch 28 October 1918