Building a Better Health Service


Santa Works at Ennis General Hospital

10 years ago, Bernie Tierney, a member of the Hygiene team in Ennis General Hospital, was chatting to some of the hospitals older patients as Christmas approached.  Many of the patients were likely to be in hospital over Christmas. Some were unlikely to have visitors.

 Bernie - Ennis Hospital lge image

Bernie says “It was very upsetting to think of them in the hospital, some of them with nobody to visit them and not even a little something to open.  We had to do something about it. We knew we needed to change the atmosphere in the hospital on that day.”

Bernie bought small things like toothbrushes and soap and wrapped them in Christmas paper. When Christmas Day arrived, Bernie, dressed as Santa Claus himself, rang a bell around the wards and delivered her gifts.

The following year, the nurses started to give her gifts in preparation for Christmas and so a tradition was born. It’s a tradition that has grown year on year since. Now many of the hospitals staff include a visit to the hospital as part of their Christmas Day plans now and their children accompany Bernie on her rounds and play traditional music as they go.

Bernie plans 40 presents every year – making sure she has a present for every patient who is in the hospital on Christmas Day. She fundraises throughout the year, running raffles and cake sales and, with support from local business in the County Clare town, brings a little Christmas cheer to the hospital.

 “Some people get upset because they’re reminded of the fact that they have nobody but they’re happy to be thought of too and to get something to open. I can’t imagine Christmas without doing this now I get so much out of it – it’s a lovely thing - to make someone happy at Christmas.” says Bernie.

Ennis General Hospital is part of the University of Limerick Hospital Group.