A new book about an organisation dedicated to the treatment of addiction has just become available. It is a memoir written by a Tipperary born Sister of Mercy who, in 1983, founded the charitable organisation known as Aiséirí.
Sr Eileen’s memoir traces her life from her earliest days growing up in Bansha to her schooldays in Cahir and onward to her preparation for religious life and her vocational training as a nurse and a counsellor. But the treatment of those suffering from addiction was to become her greatest passion. She first became aware of this potentially life-destroying disease when she worked as a psychiatric nurse in St. Michael’s hospital in Clonmel. Unhappy with the accepted treatment of the day she set about forging a new way to treat not just the individual people in addiction but also their families.
Her journey took her to America for advanced training in addiction treatment and then back to Ireland to set up her own foundation. The first Aiséirí centre was based in Cahir in a lovely historic house where it remains to this day. Since then the organisation has flourished and developed and now has additional treatment centres for adults in Wexford and Waterford and in Ballragget in Co. Kilkenny for young people. Based on the abstinence model of Alcoholics Anonymous the holistic treatment available in the centres can bring the individuals from detoxification right through to aftercare and integration into employment or further education. Since its earliest days, Aiséirí has helped thousands of sufferers to move on from addiction and live happy, fulfilled lives in recovery.
In her memoir Sr. Eileen’s courage, conviction and compassion for the individual shine through. Her dedication and determination were other attributes which inspired her fellow Sisters of Mercy, staff and volunteers to provide her with the support and assistance which she acknowledges were critical to the success of Aiséirí. Above all, her story is one of hope that out of the depths of despair so often encountered by people whose lives have spiralled out of control, there is the possibility that with help and support change is possible. Her memoir is enlivened by case histories from grateful past residents. These are told with humility, truth and great good humour.