‘Tranquility is important’: Cafe for locals with dementia opens in Dublin’s Ringsend

Banshees of Inisherin actress Sheila Flitton (90) says she is ‘grateful’ for the space

Geraldine Plunkett, actor and Age Friendly Ambassador, with Josepha Madigan, Minister for Special Education and Inclusion, at the launch of the dementia cafe and tranquility garden at Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre. Photograph: Alan Betson

A new cafe and garden space aiming to support local residents with dementia and their relatives was opened in Ringsend on Wednesday, with the support of Minister for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan.

Speaking at the launch of the space on Wednesday morning, Banshees of Inisherin actress Sheila Flitton (90) said she was “grateful” for the centre as someone who had a loved one who dealt with dementia.

“My husband died three years ago and he had dementia. One thing I’m grateful for was that he didn’t get it early on. He was in his 80s,” she said.

“It was very sad but I learned quite a lot about it and how to encourage and stimulate people with dementia,” Ms Flitton said, adding that “music was very important”.

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Ireland had come “a long way” in changing attitudes towards people with dementia and in providing better services.

“I can’t believe all this is happening here today. I’m glad to be here for this and to see how far we’ve come. It’s absolutely amazing,” she said.

There are about 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland, the majority of whom live at home and are cared for by a family member.

Lorraine Barry, services and development manager at the Ringsend and Irishtown Community Centre (RICC), said the aim of the cafe and garden was “to provide a space where you can walk in the door and say ‘I think I might have an issue with dementia’ and they’ll have a friendly space and a cup of tea and the information they need”.

“Our older people in the community are really important to us and we want to support them and drop the stigma around dementia.

“We’re a key provider of services in the Ringsend and Irishtown area. We call it the Hotel California down here, where you come in and you don’t want to leave,” Ms Barry joked.

Actor Sheila Flitton speaks at the launch in Ringsend. Photograph: Alan Betson

The launch of the garden and cafe was attended by 80 residents and local councillors in Ringsend on Wednesday morning. The RICC Dementia Cafe Tranquillity and Sensory Gardens will incorporate activities into the service “specific to the needs of people with dementia and the various stages of dementia”.

The activities programme will be developed in consultation with the service users and their chosen representatives.

Ms Madigan praised the “commitment and team effort” of the locals in creating and maintaining the garden space.

“A place like this is just so important. Tranquillity is just so important in all our lives,” she said.

Geraldine Plunkett, Age Friendly Ambassador, said the space was “fantastic, and bang in the middle of the city, with nature all around”.

“If something is age friendly, it’s everyone friendly. Anything that covers the whole spectrum of age will cover the whole community,” she said.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times