English aristocrat Valerie Goulding was founder and driving force behind clinic

The clinic was set up in a flat in Dublin to provide aftercare to polio patients

Lady Valerie Goulding, mother of Central Remedial Clinic chairman Hamilton Goulding, was a founder and later the major driving force behind the clinic. She was a prominent figure in Irish society from the 1950s until her death, aged 85, in 2003.

An English aristocrat, who enlisted the help of Charles Haughey to raise funds for the clinic, she dedicated a significant part of her life to creating facilities to care for children with disabilities.

The only daughter of Sir WJ Monckton of Brenchley, she was educated at Downe House College, Berkshire, and later studied in Paris before undertaking a tour of Europe and Africa. She acted as a courier between King Edward VIII, to whom her father was legal adviser, and British prime minister Stanley Baldwin during the 1936 abdication crisis.

Aged 20, she came to Ireland in 1939 for the Fairyhouse races and met Sir Basil Goulding, who was head of his family's fertiliser business. They married quietly in Donegal three months later, but she soon found that a life of conventional domesticity did not suit her.


The poverty she witnessed in Dublin in the 1940s appalled her. She worked as a kitchen help at Marrowbone Lane health clinic and, in 1951, she and Kathleen O'Rourke, a fitness instructor, set up a clinic to provide aftercare for polio patients. They were assisted by a young orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Boyd Dunlop.

The first patients were carried up three flights of stairs to O'Rourke's flat on Upper Pembroke Street. At the time of Lady Goulding's death, the expanded clinic was providing services for 3,500 children and 500 adults.

She spent much of her
time in the early years collecting and delivering children, often from slums, for treatment in O'Rourke's flat. By 1954, a large house had been acquired in Goatstown, where a hydrotherapy pool and training workshop were later added.

In 1968, the clinic moved to Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, with president Éamon de Valera performing the official opening. It depended entirely on voluntary funding until it received its first State subsidy in 1977.

Lady Goulding’s fundraising drive was relentless. She introduced the sponsored Dublin walk with disc jockey Jimmy Savile, long before child abuse allegations were levelled against him.

She persuaded Princess Grace of Monaco, Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby to come to Dublin to raise funds. The CRC teddy bear became one of the many symbols of CRC fundraising. When Haughey was in the political wilderness, in the aftermath of the 1970 arms crisis, he headed a fundraising committee at her request.

Her charity work was recognised in 1977 when taoiseach Jack Lynch appointed her to the Seanad. In 1982, she unsuccessfully ran for the Dáil as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the Dún Laoghaire constituency. Lady Goulding remained as managing director and chairwoman of the clinic until 1984.

She and Sir Basil lived for many years in Dargle Cottage, Enniskerry, with their three sons, Hamilton, Tim and Sir Lingard. Her husband predeceased her in 1982.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times