We've been here before.

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View of Heatherside main block from the SE.

It’s not that we haven’t been here ©vid-19 pandemic) before. Iit’s just that we’ve locked away the memories.


With an hour up my sleeve in N Cork y’day I decided to visit the TB Sanatorium Heatherside in the S foothills of the Ballyhoura Hills. Built as a TB Sanatorium in 1910 and operating as such til 1957. The place speaks to us from the past. Reminding us of what we know, knew, forget.

Before the commercial production of penicillin during WW2 TB was a pulmonary disease that could not be cured. Sanatoria like Heatherside were designed to improve the health of private and public patients. Similar sites are found at Crooksling, Dublin and Newcastle, Co. Wicklow.

South facing, with veranda’s so the patients could benefit from sunshine and fresh air these were not easy places to stay in. Poet Séan Ó’Ríordáin attended Heatherside as both a public and private patient. I could quote one of his poem’s but choose instead @CiaraBreatnach’s story of Ó’Ríordáin shouting “F... off, you F...ker” at his Heatherside physician who had refused him early drug treatment. (https://mh.bmj.com/content/40/1/11 ) Closed since 2014 (ish) the hospital is now being reclaimed by nature. Cypress and sycamore are self seeding, while moss thickly carpets the veranda floor.

All of those ‘at risk’ over 60s and 70s that we worry about (#coronavirus) grew up with TB as a part of their lives, within their families/communities.The etiquette of (not) spitting, coughing, using handkerchiefs are what they passed on to us. They have generational knowledge that we need.

TB was a disease associated with poverty although both rich and poor suffered from it. People are reluctant to share their memories of when TB was common in Ireland.

We wonder now, in the midst of a pandemic (#lockdown) if people will share their TB memories, and see what we can learn from them. What social practices we need to adopt in the coming months? If you or friends or family members have TB related stories or memories please consider sharing them using this Google Form https://forms.gle/Gpgvx1aXnbHrguLZ7

 
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