Exhibition in Suifinn Way Centre commemorates local doctor

Dr. John Crowley was a 1916 activist, but also Ballycastle's first doctor

Suifinn Way Centre Ballycastle john crowley exhibition

2016 saw many commemorations take place in Ireland, some on a grand scale nationally, and some centred locally on an event or person with a background of historical interest.  Ballycastle “Young at Heart” Art Group decided to do something at local level and Dr. John Crowley was their chosen subject. An exhibition on the career of Dr. Crowley is on display in the Suifinn Way Centre throughout the month of September. 

So, who was Dr. Crowley?

He was the first doctor to be officially appointed to serve Ballycastle and the surrounding hinterland, and served from 1901-1934. His story has many aspects; he was born in Cork, was of strong nationalist stock which led him to be deeply involved in the struggle for Independence. His exploits in this area are well recorded and can be accessed via the Historical Archives. It is his life as a “dispensary” doctor which was mainly remembered by this group. Research into his life in Ballycastle has yielded an interesting array of facts and artefacts which are now on display in Suifinn Way Centre.

Florrie McBrien has a varied collection of his medical instruments along with his “doctor’s” bag which is over 100 years old. They are intriguing to see from the timber splints (used to mend broken limbs), to the eye pieces to the chloroform mask! Then there is the anecdotal history which is also very interesting.

The work of the art group Mary Delaney, Rita Langan, Florrie McBrien, Janet Pearce & Sue Upton is also on display together with some beautiful felted pictures, created by members of our craft group “Turn the Heel in a sock” The whole display has been co-ordinated by the Suifinn Way Manager, Nuala Delaney Whelan. Research for the project was carried out by Cauleen Barrett, Orla Clinton, Florrie McBrien and Nuala Delaney Whelan.

Dr. Seamus Caulfield, known for his pioneering work at the nearby Ceide Fields opened the exhibition and gave an enthralling talk on the life of Dr. Crowley in Ballycastle. Local musician Grace Kelly researched and sang “Sweet Alice Benbolt” ,  a song often requested by Dr. Crowley on happy occasions.

The exhibition will continue in Suífinn Way Centre throughout the month of September and is well worth a look.

Further information on the Dr. John Crowley Exhibition in the Suifinn Way Centre

Call  +353 (0) 96 43848 or email suifinnway2010@gmail.com.

Suifinn Way Centre Ballycastle 1The” Young at Heart” Art Group with Dr. Seamus Caulfield beside the cabinet which holds the display of Dr. Crowley’s medical instruments.
(Back Row) Sue Upton, Una Deane, Florrie McBrien, Janet Pearse. (Front Row) Dr. Seamus Caulfield, Cauleen Barrett, Mary Delaney.
Missing from photo –Rita Langan & Kathleen McNulty.


About the Suifinn Way Centre

In early 2001 a group of local people got together to assess the need for independent living units for the elderly in Ballycastle. In April of that year Ballycastle & District Voluntary Housing Association Limited was incorporated and  granted charity status. A committee of eight local residents along with a local County Councillor set about proving the need for such a housing development, solely for the elderly, to Mayo County Council. The search for the perfect site for the development ended with the purchase of original Convent of Mercy grounds from the VEC.

Work commenced in November 2006 to build 20 two-bedroomed houses, a caretaker’s house and a day care centre. The first house was completed in 2007. This work also involved the building of the “Standing Stones” sculpture and seating area which is reflective of the harsh seascape of Ballycastle. Currently there are 18 houses rented and 18 elderly people very happy with their new homes.

The Suifinn Way Day Care Centre centre was completed in 2009 and today it is a hive of activity. The following are just some of the activities held in the centre:

– Community care meals on Mondays and Fridays
– Over 55′s exercise group
– Card players
– Legion of Mary
– Creative writing group
– Book Club
– Computer classes
– AA meetings
– Mens’ group

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