WE HELP ELDERLY IRISH PEOPLE LIVING IN THE UK TO OVERCOME POVERTY, ISOLATION AND VULNERABILITY AND TO LIVE SAFE, SECURE AND HAPPY LIVES.
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We are very sorry at the death of Margaret Byrne, one of the founders of the Irish Elderly Advice Network. Margaret was a courageous woman who was determined to improve the lives of older Irish people who were living in poverty or isolation in Camden. The Irish Elderly Advice Network is deeply proud to have Margaret as a founder and as a Trustee until the day she died, aged 90.
Below is Margaret’s Obituary published in the Camden New Journal.
OBITUARY: President’s thanks to woman who gave immigrants a voice
Margaret Byrne: ‘Very gentle, very kind – she had a deep care for others’
Published: 14 August, 2014
by PAVAN AMARA
THE President of Ireland has led the tributes to a “selfless and compassionate” woman who changed the lives of Irish immigrants in Camden.
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said Margaret Byrne, who died this week aged 90, had made an “immeasurable difference” to the vulnerable people’s lives.
He said: “Margaret’s great compassion and selfless work on behalf of others has made an immeasurable difference to the quality of life of many vulnerable Irish people.
“Her vision, energy, and generosity have ensured that members of the Irish community in Britain not only receive help, support, advice and assistance, but also respect and the right to a voice in society.”
He added that he would like to “thank her for all she did to help vulnerable members of our wider Irish family in Britain, work which is truly appreciated”.
Ms Byrne, who lived in Denton in Malden Crescent, Kentish Town, was born in the town of Nenagh, in County Tipperary, Ireland.
She came to England looking for work in the 1940s and settled in Camden after getting a job as home carer. She went on to dedicate her life to caring for others.
For the past 22 years she ran Camden’s Tara Irish Pensioners’ Club giving elderly Irish people a place to socialise every Thursday. The club was forced to move from premises to premises over the decades, but Margaret ensured it stayed open, eventually running it from her own 19th-floor flat.
Sally Mulready, the director of the Irish Elderly Advice Network, said: “Margaret was one of the founders of the network, along with Bridie McGowan, Kathleen Dermody, and Bridie Brennan.
“In 1994 she led a delegation of Irish residents to Camden Town Hall following the deaths of two elderly Irish people whose decomposed bodies lay in their respective rooms for a week before being discovered. Neither of these men had family or friends to enquire about them.
“In 1994, before Margaret started her very important work, a large number of older Irish people in Camden were very poor and many suffered severe isolation and distress.”
Margaret, along with her colleagues, also lobbied Comic Relief for funding for the network.
She spent her life in a maisonette in Denton, one of the first residents on the estate when it opened. She lived there with her husband who died seven years ago, and raised her son and daughter there.
“Margaret was a shy, quiet person but had a dogged determination that the elderly Irish community obtained a fair share of resources from statutory bodies, the council and other trusts,” added Ms Mulready.
“For the past 10 years she had successfully secured yearly funding from the Irish government for the Irish Elderly Advice Network, meaning it could reach around 4,500 people.”
Margaret also helped establish a Good Neighbour Scheme, where housebound Irish people receive visits from others in their community. The visits were often a lifeline for people who lived alone, who either had no family or whose children had moved away.
Skip Murphy, who lives in Denton and knew Margaret, said she was a “very gentle, very kind woman who made an enormous contribution because she had a deep care for others”.
He added: “She was widely known, and up until about 18 months ago she was always out and about. But after a spell in hospital she was mostly confined to her maisonette and had difficulty walking.”
The next Irish Elders Culture Club is on Thursday 14th August at 1.30pm. Click here to find out more.
Below is a clip released to say Happy St Patrick’s Day 2014 from the Irish Elderly Advice Network and the Irish Pensioners Forum of East London
Irish Pensioners Choir and Nora Mulready (fiddle player) performing on the Alan Titchmarsh show on ITV with Terry Wogan, February 2014
Click below to see the London Irish Pensioners Choir singing You Are My Sunshine at the Launch of their album, Songs of Love and Emigration.
The Irish Elderly Advice Network is a registered charity that provides advice, support and information to older Irish people living in the 32 Greater London Boroughs and areas outside of London in the South East.
Photo below from recent Irish Elderly trip to Dublin where older Irish people met The Taoiseach and the Tanaiste. Hear more about this historic trip here.
Photo from Irish government’s news website.
WHAT WE DO
- Provide advice on all aspects of benefits, including health and age related benefits
- Give housing advice and a rehousing service (last year we rehoused 56 elderly people)
- Support many Irish pensioners’ clubs throughout London, ensuring elderly Irish people remain active and have company.
- Run a Good Neighbour Scheme where isolated or lonely older Irish people are visited in their homes.
- Carry out home visits by our welfare rights advisors for people who, for health reasons, cannot come to us for advice.
- Run very busy drop-in outreach services for elderly Irish people in East London (Forest Gate) and Kilburn (Quex Rd, mazenod Community Centre)
- Help to apply for UK and Irish Pensions (if you worked in Ireland for at least one year over the age of 18, you may be entitled to an Irish pension)
- Support the London Irish Pensioners Choir (which is always open to new members.)
- Run an Irish pensioners theatre group, which performs Irish plays. (If you are an older person who loves to act, please get in touch.)
- Provide advice and information by telephone (0207 428 0471) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and in this way, we work with people from all over the country.
In the last year we have provided advice, support and information about Irish Pensions, Attendance Allowance and other welfare benefits, housing, welfare and health related benefits, employment, Blue Badges, Irish passports, returning to Ireland, and much more.
We are very happy to be contacted about any issue and we will do whatever we can to help.
We are very grateful for the continued support and funding from the Irish government’s Department of Foreign Affairs. We are also grateful to our other funders and to all those who have made personal donations to support the ongoing work of the Irish Elderly Advice Network.