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Remembrance and Recognition Exhibition in Galway University Hospitals

Staff working in University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital have contributed to an evocative exhibition,  sharing their thoughts and reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition is on display in the Arts Corridors in UHG and in Merlin Park until the end of April.

The announcement in January of a national Day of Remembrance and Recognition prompted a group of staff to organise an event as a hospital community which would acknowledge both the personal and professional experience of the pandemic.

Margaret Flannery, Saolta Arts Director was one of the staff involved in arranging the exhibition. She said, “A call went out to colleagues to come forward with prose, poetry, photographs or whatever medium they would like to use to tell their story, of their experience of the pandemic. What we received was eclectic, representing the genuine fear, fatigue and pride of hospital staff.  It is good to know that despite the trauma of the past two years there is also a little humour.”

Anne McKeown, End of Life Care Co-ordinator at the hospital said, “We asked staff to share some of their experiences from the early days of fear of the unknown to the relief of vaccination, the highs and lows and the effect it had on themselves, their family and work colleagues. It is fair to say that there are some staff who are not yet able to talk about their experience of the pandemic. However, all the exhibits are displayed anonymously so that those viewing them are able to identify with the sentiment, rather than the person.”

While access to the hospital for visitors is limited at the moment, people attending the hospital for appointments are invited to stop for a few minutes and read a few of the thoughts staff have shared. Here are some examples:

“What is Covid-19, are we going to get it and die? Are we going to bring this home with us? ……. The fear at first, everyone was in the same boat, nobody knew what was coming. Day by day, each day, there was new policy drawn up, PPE training, donning and doffing, what masks to use, the extra cleaning which had to be done on everything that we touched - lifts, door handles, light switches, release buttons on doors and lifts. Every point we touched making sure we were clean moving on to our next jobs. The fear was the biggest part at the start for us and our families. But also for the patients, who we met from day one to the day they left to go home or those patients who unfortunately died due to COVID-19, may they rest in peace.”

“The quote ‘If you enlist you must march’ was very relevant in those early days. While it was not necessary for me at any time to be knowingly in close contact with a COVID-19 patient, I will always appreciate those that knowingly did so unseen without hesitation day in day out in those early pre vaccination days. They are real heroes - we salute them.”

Recognition and Remembrance – Staff Reflections of the Covid-19 Pandemic is on view from 18 March to 30 April 2022. 

Saolta Arts runs the west of Ireland's leading Arts and Health programme as a means of improving the hospital experience for patients, staff and visitors. We believe access to the arts promotes well-being and enhances the hospital environment. This project is an initiative under the Healthy Ireland Plan, HSE Staff Health and Wellbeing. We gratefully acknowledge funding from Saolta University Health Care Group and the HSE. 

For further information contact Margaret Flannery, Saolta Arts at or Anne McKeown, End of Life Care Co-ordinator at



The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
University Hospital Galway (UHG)