Alice Leahy, Director of Services of the Alice Leahy Trust, has dedicated her life to securing better services for vulnerable people, providing vital practical supports for those that need it most.
She has been a social activist for the majority of her life; a tireless campaigner, advocate and voice, setting up Trust, now known as the Alice Leahy Trust, in 1975. It remains “an extraordinary nurse-led service that offers respite, shelter, recognition” to people who are homeless.
Originally from Tipperary, she trained as a nurse in Dublin; at the then Royal City of Dublin Hospital in Baggot Street. It was in this hospital that she, alongside with consultants, set up the first Intensive Care Unit of its type in Ireland. She then went on to specialise as a midwife, training at the Rotunda.
"It never leaves you"
Her social conscience was formed at an early age, where, as a midwife, she would visit pregnant women, sometimes living in the most deprived parts of Dublin. She soon began to recognise what poverty looks like, something she has said: “never leaves you.”
In the 1970s, she left her career in nursing and to work for the Dublin Simon Community, wanting to put her nursing experience to good use. And ever since, Nurse Alice, as she was – and often still is – known, has dedicated her life to the needs of the community around her.
As well as her campaign work, she is also former Chairperson of the Sentence Review Group, former Irish Human Rights Commissioner and former member Board of Management, Lusk Campus, Oberstown.
Wanting to help spread awareness however she can, Alice is also a writer, commentator, broadcaster and lecturer, who uses her platform to help promote understanding of the needs of the outsider in society.
For her decades of dedication, she has received multiple honours, including being named Humanitarian of the Year at the Irish Red Cross awards ceremony in 2018.
Irish Red Cross chairman Pat Carey said of her award:
She has developed an unrivalled understanding of the needs of those on the margins of society and during every day of her working life she has implemented practical measures to help combat social exclusion
Her memoir, The Stars are our Only Warmth, was released last year.