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Dad’s unexpected death has shone a spotlight on our warm, generous community

By Ultan Molloy - 05th Mar 2024

The recent passing of my father, Eddie, continues to be a struggle, but I am blessed with receiving a huge amount of love and kindness from family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues

Well, after missing last month’s edition due to my father’s untimely demise, I am still struggling somewhat, having had his month’s mind just yesterday. Struggling to think of anything but our changed family situation and feeling his absence. Struggling indeed to have anything that may be of interest or of use to you, the reader, in this March column of Irish Pharmacist.


We have our doors open long hours and are being increasingly drawn on to provide support to walk-in patients and, by all accounts, we are doing a great job of it

Two of the core values in our business are community focus and warm friendship, the latter of which may seem a little soft and cuddly at first read, but it has proven to be our most valuable cornerstone. The death of my father, Eddie, has well and truly brought our community into focus as it happens. The rallying of support we have experienced over the last number of weeks from friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, and others, has been almost overwhelming. “We’ll have to up our funeral game!” my wife said to me when we discussed it in hindsight, and I can’t but agree.

It means so much to be on the receiving end of extraordinary kindness and support at a time when just putting one foot in front of the other and keeping the basics ticking over day to day is hard to do. I have reflected on times when I could have made more of an effort to show up for friends and family going through bereavements. Unfortunately, sometimes, I believe, one has to experience this side of things – and be on the receiving end – before understanding the importance of being there in another’s time of need. It is that simple. Just being there in solidarity and friendship is more than enough.

I have had numerous Mass cards and, indeed, some of our customers came in person to offer condolences at Eddie’s removal. ‘You were so good to my mother when she was alive’, and similar comments were made through kind handshakes (and indeed others more akin to vice grips), which went on for more than four hours. Our endeavours of warm friendship in our dealings with our patients, customers, and friends, were apparently paying dividends at not the most obvious forum.

It does make a difference though and, at times when customers can sometimes be less than easy to manage at the counter, it would serve us well to remember that showing kindness to everybody who comes through the door is invaluable. I am not suggesting that one lies down like a doormat, as poor behaviour can easily and readily be called out, but more often than not, we do not know what is going on in the lives of our patients and customers.

Getting a prescription repeated and trying to get a GP appointment is apparently more difficult than ever, and we are spending more and more time advocating on our patients’ behalf, chasing prescriptions for them, clarifying queries, and dispensing emergency supplies. All the while, we have had no financial support or resourcing from the government, and while the cuts imposed through the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest remain in place for us, payments to GPs have gone up by more than 70 per cent, with private consultations increased from €45 to €70 in one local surgery – if you can get an appointment,
that is.

A pharmacist’s doors are open for long hours and we are being increasingly drawn on to provide support to walk-in patients and, by all accounts, we are doing a great job of it. Being a pharmacist is more than just a job and, hopefully, recent and future graduates will understand the value of being present for patients and customers. We must remember how much that means to them, as much of the time we do not get to understand the impact of our work or receive external feedback that is affirming and positive.

Now, though, I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, and will attempt to get a reasonably early night’s sleep. I understand that one has to go through this grieving process, rather than skirting around it or trying to numb the whole experience with one’s favourite tipple, but it is a rollercoaster of emotions.

Sponsored shave

Separately, although somewhat related, I had started growing a beard some months back, for no particular reason other than it is what my face wanted to do! It was attracting so many comments, and indeed a few pulls, that I decided to put it to good use, and set up a sponsored shave for the Cancer Fund for Children (Ireland). It is building a therapeutic break centre for children and their families not far from where I live, which will serve the whole country. My father had spent much of his last few days texting people far and wide, providing details of the iDonate fundraising link and was excited to be telling me who he “had got” to put a few quid in, to get “that thing”, as he called it, off my face. It has turned out to be in memory of himself now too, and unfortunately, his sister, Brigid, (my aunt), who I was chatting to at Eddie’s wake. She passed away suddenly the following morning before leaving the house to go to his funeral.


Being a pharmacist is more than just a job and, hopefully, recent and future graduates will understand the value of being present for patients and customers

We have nearly €15,000 now, and the link is still open if you’d care to support what is a very worthy charity. Just type in iDonate.ie and search Ultan and you’ll see my hirsute mug smiling back at you. Alternatively, just Revolut me, or post a donation to me, with cheques made payable to ‘Cancer Fund for Children’, and I’ll add it in. A blatant plug, but for a fantastic charity, and so why not. We are definitely not the worst off in society, and it feels good to share it around. I hope that none of us will ever have to avail of their services, but they are doing fantastic work countrywide, with their team providing support to children and families. I hope you enjoy the March festivities. Maybe a dry St Patrick’s Day ahead of us? Definitely a feel of spring is out there today as I write this with the sun shining, which is most welcome.

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