Dr Nora McGarry
A caring physician
Article by Tony Murphy
Nora McGarry (nee Diskin) (1919 – 2013) was one of seven children born to Pat and Mary Diskin (nee Martyn) at Dillonbrook, Milltown. Her early education was in Milltown National School where her father was principal. She attended St Louis Kiltimagh where she did her Leaving Cert and from there went on to do a degree in medicine in UCG. Her first employment was in Sheffield, England.
She came home to Ireland in 1949 and practiced as a GP in Ballindine, Co Mayo until 1954 when she moved to Milltown.
In 1945 she married Jack McGarry, a County Council engineer and they had eight children. Unfortunately, Jack died suddenly in August 1960 leaving Nora to rear 8 children as well as running a busy practise in Milltown.
The practise continued to flourish due in no small way for her capacity in diagnosing and treating illnesses thereby negating the need for hospitalisation in many cases.
She helped in the delivery of many babies and her advice to and care for pregnant mothers was legendary.
Ireland of the Fifties and Sixties was a difficult place to eke out a living and many of her patients had to depend on her generosity, which was never withheld, in order to get treated for their illness.
This level of care and treatment was delivered with a caring and sympathetic ear.
Realising the circumstances in which many elderly people were living and the social exclusion suffered by them she set about improving their lot. In 1981 she negotiated the acquisition from the church authorities of lands adjoining the old school house. On this land she decided that a Day Care Centre be provided which would serve as a focal point for the senior citizens in the parish.
Planning permission was obtained, and Dr Nora and her hard-working committee set about the task of funding this project. Card drives, dances, raffles and bucket collections were arranged and with the help of the community she so loyally served, her dream came to fruition and the builders moved in on the site in April 1993. It was a proud day for Nora and her committee when the Day Care Centre was officially opened by Archbishop Cassidy on the 22nd October 1994.
This facility has served the community well in the intervening years as a place where the elderly can meet and socialise, and it hosts the highly successful annual senior citizens Christmas party. The premises have also been used for meetings, a weekly card game is held and a creche operated from there at one stage.
Being aware also of the poor housing conditions of many of her patients, she spearheaded the provision of 4 housing units on lands adjoining the Day Care Centre. This involved the establishment of a Voluntary Housing Group in conjunction with Galway County Council and such was her standing in the local community that her involvement in any project was sure to be successful and so it was. Four one-bedroomed units were completed in July 2003 and officially opened by Dr Nora herself.
Her involvement with these facilities meant she left a legacy of 2 important items of infrastructure but it was her care for her patients that was her greatest characteristic and her death in May 2013 removed from our midst that great lady who was like a second mother to us all.