Liam Brewer and Marcus Wilson outside Liam's home on Mary Street
Corca Teine is the ancient name for the town of Templemore and dates back to the fifth century.
When a local team were developing a community Facebook page in 2019 they chose Tuatha Corca Teine as their page name and during its short life it has proved to be very popular with Templemore natives from all around the world.
As we are well aware of by now the Covid-19 pandemic has prevented so many of us from meeting with our loved ones. This is particularly difficult for people who cannot travel home to meet their parents.
One such person is Yvonne Brewer whose parents Liam and Phil live on Mary Street. Liam has run a cobbler shop from his home from many years while his wife Phil comes from Cloone, a member of the well-known Heffernan family.
Their daughter Yvonne is now resident in the rebel county and has not visited Mam and Dad for many months. And with Liam in need of kidney dialysis three times a week Yvonne contacted Tuatha Corca Teine to express her thanks to her Dad’s drivers.
“I really want to thank all those drivers who pick up my dad at 5.30am three times a week regardless of weather or pandemic conditions. I think they are real heroes and up there with all the other frontline workers around the country. Without this service many people would struggle to organise transport to get to their appointments. Knowing that Dad is receiving this level of care on a regular basis is a great comfort to his family”.
Providing this service, in conjunction with the HSE, are Johnston’s Hackney and Minibus which is a family owned business managed by Damian Johnston and his wife Rachel, with cleaning and refuelling services provide by daughters Jill and Ruth.
Damien’s grand-father, Joseph Goulding Johnston of Springmount, began carrying people in his car over 100 years ago, his father Joseph Goulding Jnr (better known to all as Gouldie) took over in 1945 and when dialysis treatment first came on stream in Ireland in the 1970’s he was one of the first drivers procured to bring patients to hospital.
It was mainly off to Dublin in those days with Jervis Street and Beaumont Hospital providing the treatment but Johnston’s have also had occasion to bring patients to almost every dialysis unit in the country.
Harder driving in those days too with no motorways or service stations. But then, as now, the patient is the priority and Damien’s team of drivers are at the ready no matter what.
Marcus Wilson, Rachel Johnston, PJ Sweeney, Gar O’Shea, Ger Bergin, Jenny Kennedy, Freddie Cullen, Matt Givens, Jim Quaid, Tommy Heffernan and Damien himself currently bring twelve patients to Limerick and two to Kilkenny three times a week in all weathers, all year ‘round, Christmas day included.
Damian says: “These drivers are a fantastic group of people. I can’t say enough about their dedication to the job and the care and attention shown to the patients that we carry is second to none. Not only do they act as drivers but also as companions, counsellors, carers and are thoroughly professional in every aspect”.
Damian also had this to say about Liam: “He is always ready and waiting at the front door and is full of chat throughout the journey. A very popular character too at University Hospital Limerick, Liam has written poems for his nurses and repaired footwear for consultants, porters and nurses alike. A kind soul too he would always offer to take the dreaded middle seat during pre-Covid times, putting other patients first. The journey is never long with Liam on board”.
So as we all head towards the ever-nearing pandemic finish line it’s very comforting to know that those among our community who are need in of special care and attention are being well looked after by others in that same community thus in turn providing great re-assurance to Yvonne, and so many others like her, that their loved ones are being well taken care of back home.