Over 7,400 roses laid out in memory of lives lost to coronavirus

Memorial initiative at National War Memorial Gardens, Dublin aims to help people grieve

Healthcare and frontline staff from Ireland and Northern Ireland held a ceremony at the National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin to remember the lives lost to Covid-19 on the island of Ireland. Photograph: Julie Behal

Healthcare and frontline staff from Ireland and Northern Ireland held a ceremony at the National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin to remember the lives lost to Covid-19 on the island of Ireland. Photograph: Julie Behal

 

Thousands of white roses have been laid out at the National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin as a tribute to the people who have died of the coronavirus.

A total of 7,497 rose stems have been placed - one for each life lost to it on the island of Ireland.

Dr Patrick Seigne, a consultant intensivist at Cork University Hospital who helped to organise the initiative, said the tribute to the lives lost to Covid-19 provided a chance for family members, frontline workers and the nation to grieve.

He said the roses seek to humanise the faceless daily figures that people have become accustomed to during the pandemic.

“I saw a lot of sadness over the last 18 months…I saw a lot of death and I didn’t really feel that a lot of the families had an appropriate opportunity to mourn.”

Dr Seigne was one of dozens of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other frontline staff who cycled from hospitals across the country to the gardens in Islandbridge, where a minute of silence was held.

More than €126,000 has so far been raised by the ICU4U memorial charity cycle for four charities helping older people, providing mental health supports and researching difficult to treat cancers.

‘Emotional’

Dr Catherine Motherway, an intensive care consultant at University Hospital Limerick, cycled to the gardens and said she felt “quite emotional” about the tribute.

“Many of the patients we lost in ICU we knew. They had been with us for a long time. We knew these people before we put them on ventilators,” she said, adding that some patients were engrained in her memory.

“Some because of their character, some because of the work that they put in and we put in and still we lost the battle.”

Eileen Finucane planted a permanent red rose tree in the gardens in memory of her husband Seamus (59), who died with the virus last year. She praised the “great work” of the intensive care team at Cork University Hospital and urged people to protect themselves through vaccination.

Cold experience

Peter O’Connor, brother to Seamus, said losing a sibling during a Covid-19 wave was a “very cold experience”, with no opportunity to visit him after he was admitted to hospital.

“He was only 59, a year older than myself. He was hilarious, outgoing, jolly... We still haven’t said our final farewell as a family. We still have to celebrate his life and give him the send off he deserves,” he said.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit the floral tribute on Saturday and to take a rose in memory of their lost loved one. More information about the cause and donating to it can be found at icu4u.ie.