St. Anne's Nursing Home , North Main St., Youghal

Child in top hat
Helen Keane

St Anne’s Nursing Home, North Main Street, Youghal, Co. Cork


My memories of visiting my grandmother Edith Tooher in Youghal start with running in the door to be greeted with a big hug from her.  The main front door was always open and the inner door  had beautiful stained glass, I never remember the front door being closed during the day.  There was a lovely Grandfather clock in the hall and on the shelf over it was my great grandfather’s (John George Dickenson) Top Hat.  I have a photograph of me wearing the hat in the back garden of the house, I got a cowgirl outfit for Christmas and my hat was missing so I got to wear the top hat.

I used to visit with my father when he was home; we’d go to Cork on the train and get picked up at the station by a Mr Quirke.

The nursing home was a private maternity home for many years and I remember the babies were in Moses baskets with pink or blue trim. I was sent up every now and again to see if the babies were crying and woe betide if you got the wrong one.

Half way up the stairs to the first floor was a turn off to the delivery room which you were not allowed to go into.

I remember the Doctor coming some days to visit the patients I think his name was Dr Gowan.

The house to a small child was a huge and wondrous place with lots of stairs and rooms, but we could only go to the rooms on the second floor to sleep as the other rooms were used for the mothers who had come to have their babies.

On the second floor was a glass case with stuffed birds , they used to scare the life out of me when the light from the back would shine on it, all you could see were their eyes!

The kitchen was a lovely warm place with a range that had a permanent pot of soup going all day.  Birdie Cronin worked there with Mary Burke for many years and I remember them well, they were such lovely caring people.  I also remember the cups and saucers and saw something similar recent on Call the Midwife, they were a kind of green colour.   The kitchen also had a big table with one stool and we used to fight over who would get to sit on it at meal times.  There was a big Smeg fridge which was always full. Granny used to make trifle in little dishes for the patients only.  We children could have jelly and ice cream.   There was a lovely little room behind the kitchen with lots of little knick knacks and a bed, there was a lovely Cuckoo Clock and photographs,  this room had a door leading out to the garden and just outside it was the meat safe.

There was a beautiful back garden with a greenhouse and apple trees, I loved the garden and the green house and the smell of home grown tomatoes always reminds me of it,  she grew loganberries in there also and to be honest I don’t think I ever had one since I was a small child.

As I got older I would be sent upstairs with Mary Burke in the mornings to make the beds, though I never became a nurse myself I did know how to make hospital beds.  The bedrooms  were high ceilinged and had big furniture like big wardrobes, dressing tables etc.

I had a wonderful time there whenever I went to visit.

My grandmother had a Morris Minor Car that she kept in a garage in McCarthy’s Yard (it’s now a hotel) across the road, it was one with the little blinkers that would pop out to indicate.  Mr Bulman from the house next door would drive it for her and I had many a trip to Cork City with her.

In later years my grandmother took in elderly women and I remember a Miss Moore and a Philomena.

We as a family with my mother spent the summer of 1969 there before we moved to our new home in Bantry so we spent a lot of time in the garden or down at the Green Hole swimming.

I have been back to Youghal and I find it sad that the house is now flats.  It became a bookies office for a while and some kind of shop also.  My self and one of my sisters popped in when it was a bookies and couldn’t believe we were standing in my grandmothers living room.

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