by Sr. Mary Doonan, MMM Ireland 09.05.2023
Mother Mary Martin, the founder of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, was a woman ahead of her time. She saw the need “to start our General Training Hospital which is a crying necessity for our missionary work and the people of the district”. The building of the International Missionary Training Hospital in Drogheda (IMTH) commenced with the turning of the sod and blessing by Cardinal D’Alton on the 8th September 1952. Soon after that, the building contractors moved in and work began.
Having a great business sense, Mother Mary realised the first section of the hospital to be build should be the boiler house and the new laundry, rather than the wards and other areas. From the beginning, out of necessity, there was a laundry attached to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
Wishing the new laundry to be run properly, Mother Mary employed an experienced English Manageress, Miss Adams, to oversee the project. The equipment was purchased and installed, staff recruited and trained and all the regulations for the protection of the staff was put in place. The installation of the boiler, which had to be in place before the walls around it could be built, took place on 16th March 1954.
As well as serving the IMTH, the laundry served the people in and around Drogheda, as well as some big institutions like Butlin’s Holiday Camp, colleges, and hotels.
Over the years both the old and new Our Lady of Lourdes Laundry gave employment to many in Drogheda. The Laundry initially employed women of all ages according to their ability. The women spoke of how they enjoyed the companionship they had, the sharing of stories at break times, and of course, the payment. They had money in their pockets every week that was their own to spend. The younger women remembered that when they were getting married, Mother Mary gave them their wedding cake, baked and decorated in the convent.
Sisters who had also worked in the laundry wrote from the missions grateful for their laundry experience in Drogheda. When they went on mission, they wrote home “it is good to get started; my own experience, in the Laundry in Drogheda is coming in very useful now, with a Washer, Hydro and Drier”.
A statue of Mother Mary Martin is to be unveiled on 27th May this year, across the road from where Our Lady of Lourdes Laundry was situated and close to the Hospital Entrance.