Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Sorrow and Progress


Monday 11 November 2019

In the summer of 2018, there was an epidemic across many early childhood settings of E-Coli VTEC. This is a very dangerous infection that affected many children and can lead to hospitalisation and severe complications in some cases. Several early childhood settings had to close briefly over the summer, however, the source was not identified. As a lecturer in child health and well-being I spend a lot of time talking about how we promote children's health and well-being.

Over the last century there have been lots of advances in medicine, hygiene and health. When we look at vaccinations for example, and consider how diseases like polio have been eradicated in this country it is remarkable how far we have come. However, some infections and diseases are more difficult to eradicate.

When researching previous serious cases of food poisoning in Ireland, I came across the tragic story of ten girls that died in the Mount St Vincent Orphanage (St Vincent Industrial school) in Limerick 111 years ago this very month. My interest in the case was particularly sparked as my office is in the Mount St. Vincent building, where these girls lived and died, as it is now part of the Mary Immaculate College Campus. It has been named the John Henry Newman Building. My colleagues and I walk the corridors that these girls walked, and before the building was renovated the history of the building was almost palpable.

Over the course of a few days in November 1908, ten girls in the orphanage died and over seventy were ill. The cause was not deemed to be influenza, tuberculosis or scarlet fever, but down to food poisoning from a beef stew made in the technical class the day before. The detailed inquest and medical notes trace the source and spread of infection in a very clinical way. They describe how it was the older girls who were mostly affected as they had made the stew and eaten it. Some of the older girls shared contaminated meat with some of the younger girls in the class below, possibly sisters. The youngest class, aged three to seven, had been made a soup with the bones of the meat, and none of them actually got sick. This broth had been boiled thoroughly.

The Sisters of Mercy annals describe ‘scenes of grief and wailing outside’ as parents and relatives enquired after their children and the Sisters themselves were ‘crushed with grief’. The Mayor of Limerick at the time described the event as ‘the most lamentable calamity which occurred in the city for a long period of years’. From a medical perspective, the seriousness of this case of food poisoning attracted significant attention both at home and abroad, at the time and even years later in medical textbooks, was still referred to as a ‘remarkable’ case. The scale and extent of the resulting illness and death of children was highly unusual, even in 1908.

Many marginalised children’s voices from the past have never been heard, or have been long forgotten. The young girls that died over a century ago in the orphanage were often referred to generically as 'inmates' so a key focus of my research has been to trace their tragic lives and remember these girls by telling their untold or forgotten stories and to remember them. Food hygiene is still a struggle for us today, inside and outside the home. While thankfully today, due to medical advances and improved hygiene devastating events such as this are rare, however, we must not be complacent. And we have to ensure that all children are treated equally, so all voices are heard.  We must remember to listen to the past and learn from it. And never forget.

For more information on e-coli click here.

Please click here to access further information and packs for your setting on the Safefood Rufus Handwashing Programme. 

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Scéalta Blog(99) Seas Suas(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Opportunities(1) man up(1) Grief(1) Party(1) ECEC Setting(2) eating(1) educarer(1) Maynooth(1) Treasure Chest(1) Glitter(2) Professionalisation(5) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Identity(5) Leargas(1) Budget 2020(1) emotions(2) Learning Story(1) role playing(1) Large Doll Play(1) Masterclass(2) Thinking(1) learners(1) babies(7) early life(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Pobal sector profile(1) christmas(9) journey(1) Map(1) coronavirus(1) Study Trip(1) Mindfulness(2) Prexit(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Book Review(1) research submissions(1) ears(1) Irish guidelines(1) Wonder(1) Light table(1) Penguins(1) Rituals(1) Xbox(1) CPD(1) Easter(1) Pen green(1) Home Corner(1) responsive relationships(1) Environment(2) documentation(4) AIM(2) Limerick(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) EM Standing(1) worries(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) animals(2) Buddies(1) Change(1) Covid response(1) ECEC(3) Exploring and Thinking(1) apps for children(1) Storytelling(6) Inspirational(2) Fabric(1) science(3) code of professional responsibility(1) Mount Everest(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Little Buddies(1) Visitors(1) outdoor play(6) movement behaviours(1) Mental Health(4) under 3's(3) conversations(1) baby room(1) Social Skills(1) emotional environment(2) Loving Relationships(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Cognitive development(1) Gardening(1) Horizon 2020(1) Meet the Members(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) University(1) Reggio(1) Yoga(1) outdoor space(3) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) play pods(2) TRAP(1) Wilenski(1) Support(1) Anthony Semann(1) Inter-generational learning(2) emotional well-being(1) budget(1) ERASMUS+(3) ELC(1) Reflective Practice(1) The Jelly King(1) dublin(2) play therapy(1) RTE Investigates(1) Inspections(1) outdoors(4) Snakes(1) grandchild(1) European Project(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) SAC(1) Decisions(1) Biting(1) TOY Programme(1) life long learning(1) Names(1) Primary School(2) Youtube Series(1) Infection Control(1) Building Resilience(1) Intention(1) community(5) Budget 2019(2) Facebook(1) imotion(1) National Awards 2018(2) Pedagogy(2) memories(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Culture(2) Awards 2019(1) Spiders(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Universal Design(2) Empathy(1) Learning journals(1) Mantra(1) social science(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) National Pyjama Day(1) Santa(2) Mo Scéal(1) Favouritism(1) Playdough(1) Staff Motivation(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Pretend Play(1) Self-regulation(1) Photographs(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Autism(4) supportive environments(2) COVID-19 Reopening(2) School Age Childcare(1) linc(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Italy(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Research Conference 2019(1) outdoor environment(1) Policy(2) Identity and Belonging(4) child-centric(1) dining experiences(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) E.coli(1) social media(1) Childcare(3) Performing(1) pets(1) Training(2) Eritrea(1) Arts(1) Self Help Skills(1) Craft(1) racism(1) Graduate(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Orla Kenny(1) Sessional service(1) Time(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) preschool settings(1) Liz Kerrins(1) lockdown(1) Vietnam(1) Arlene Forster(1) Laugh(1) art of the relationship(1) Magda Gerber(1) Children's Research Network(1) Syria(1) early childhood educator(2) Human Resources(1) maternity health(1) childcare services(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Creative(1) science week(2) INTO(1) Our Little Seed(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Mathematicians(1) Trade Unions(1) reading(5) structure(1) relationships(17) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Early Years(1) Early Years Educators(3) Vertical grouping(1) Exploring(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) San Miniato(4) creche(1) Your place(1) Equality(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Confident(1) dogs(1) Sequins(1) UNCRC(2) interacting(2) Nutrition(1) Leprechauns(1) Competent(1) SPICE Framework(1) Running(1) Interests(1) Children's Voice(1) United Nations(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Children's Rights(3) Family wall(1) preschool(4) First 5(1) Interactions(2) Awards 2018(3) Children(4) Celebrate(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Self-Esteem(1) transitions(10) Kids Own(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Pobal(1) children’s learning(1) Funding(1) Technology(3) Laughter(1) Workplace Relations(3) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) pablo(1) play stories(2) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Childhood(1) Thanks(1) education(2) dining(1) IGL(1) Feeding(1) Engagement(1) Mark Twain(1) purpose(1) Body Language(1) learning(19) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Line-ups(1) bloom app(1) educating(1) Music(3) Behaviour(3) toddlers(3) Independence(1) listen(1) Afghanistan(1) Reading Time(1) Frustrations(1) NAEYC(1) overhear(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) UD(1) Workplace well-being(1) Interaction(1) Japan(1) Family(1) Patterns(1) Touch(1) Maria Montessori(1) Queues(1) Trigonometry(1) collaboration(1) Inter-generational(2) Wrapping paper(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) youdoodle(1) Weather(1) story time(2) Department of Education and Skills(1) code of ethics(1) curiosity(3) friendships(1) Consent(1) Adoption(1) Cork(1) Fee Play(1) Playschool(1) Mud kitchens(1) Arithmetic(1) Book Club(2) COVID-19 crisis(1) Socioemotional development(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Breathing(2) Obesity(1) aistear blog(3) Sleep(1) Well-Being(10) Sustainability(3) UN(1) Kerry(1) Bereavement(2) COVID-19(10) Drawing(2) New Appointments(1) Small World Play(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Mayo(1) National Holiday(1) Through the looking glass(1) Maths(5) value(1) PIP(1) First 5 strategy(1) listening(1) Care routines(1) Teamwork(1) show and tell(1) Love(3) DES Inspection(1) child-centred approach(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Anxiety(2) Snacks(1) curriculum(5) Digital Devices(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Diversity(1) Time Out(1) Lego(2) Imagination(3) Magnavacchi(1) Whole Group(1) Jenga(1) Settling in(4) behavioural science(1) Health(2) Margy Whalley(1) Learning Stories(9) healthy eating policies(1) routine(2) Workforce(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Story(1) primary education(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Siolta blog(8) Celebrations(4) Administrative Burden(1) Ariana Pucci(1) gender bias(1) Children and families(1) education system(1) Magic(1) STEM(3) Traffic Lights(1) Academics(1) Child mental health(1) reopening(1) stories(3) EECERA 2016(1) risk(2) Plants(1) continual professional development(1) Event Guide(1) Decision Making(1) Online(1) Visual Impairment(1) Participation(2) Communications(1) Loss(1) Traditions(2) bonds(1) Qualifications(1) respect(5) Sociodramatic play(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Communicating(1) Relaxation(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) family time(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) CCTV(1) planning(1) mushrooms(1) Wendy Lee(3) risky play(2) Treasure(1) peer group(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Brain(1) Supernanny(1) World Health Organisation(1) Maynooth University(2) development(8) Performance Management(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Aistear(123) learning bias(1) Meal time(1) Oireachtas(1) College(1) Art(6) feisty(1) scéalta(45) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Síolta(125) Degree(1) ReCreate(2) Pedagogical leaders(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Confidence(1) ECCE(7) books(4) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Wesco(1) Educators(2) Rich Documentation(1) GDPR(1) Awards(2) Exit interview(1) Quality(4) MECPI(1) Dance(1) Community involvement(1) Window(1) Norway(2) Document Learning(1) DCYA(6) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Research Seminar(1) developing motor skills(1) Gratitude(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) staying connected(1) keezy(1) Exclusion(1) refugees(1) reopening ireland(1) Upcycling(1) Ceremony(1) research(6) Sculptures(1) children development(1) Painting(1) risk assessment(1) RIE philosphy(1) june29(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Maternity Leave(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Fantasy play(1) Sport(1) Titles(1) Summer(1) Care-giving routines(1) communication(4) Exercise(1) blog(41) MA(1) meals(3) trust(4) Employee(1) Potential(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Malaguzzi(1) Exploratory Play(1) Death(2) Flowers(1) Giraffe(2) Belonging(3) Games(1) gender stereotype(1) Engineering(3) Maths Week(1) Recycle(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Covid pandemic(1) Sweets(1) Mealtimes(1) annual conference(1) HR(1) early childhood(1) Iceland(1) Super Shed Stories(2) NCCA(3) Mixed age groups(3) Winter(1) Affordability(1) Digital(1) Montessori(3) National Awards 2019(1) Capable(1) Buddy Bench(1) Impact(1) ICBN(1) Leadership(1) Challenges(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Blocks(1) phone apps(1) Nonverbal(1) Sustainable(1) conference(1) Graduation(1) Trick or treat(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) early years research(2) Advocacy(1) Pre-School Services(1) Engineers Week(2) Access and Inclusion Model(2) experience(1) Stress(2) Positivity(1) Design(1) Twitter(1) Infectious diseases(1) early years learning(1) AsIAm(2) mental health problems(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Halloween(2) keep in touch(1) Learning Journal(2) Smiles(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Awards Night(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Routines(2) parents(6) play(35) Budget 2018(1) Academic Skills(1) Irish(1) Investment(2) Scents(1) Thank you(1) Albert Einstein(1) food(1) Appreciation(1) CIT(1) Child Care(1) Kilkenny(1) Early Childhood Ireland(4) Síolta QAP(1) awards 2020(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Inclusion(3) Builders(1) Role play(1) Certificate(1) Plastic(1) environments(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Trade union(1) iOS(1) Snack Time(1) Creativity(5) Elders(1) Valentine's Day(3) Shoes(1) Recycling(2) play pod(1) Iraq(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Shapes(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine