Limerick mum-of-17 endures damp home while recovering from stroke

Patricia Ryan waiting 'impatiently' for Regeneration to provide home insulation

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Limerick mum-of-17 endures dampness while recovering from stroke

Patricia Waters with Cllr Frankie Daly and her family in St Mary’s Park

A WIDOWED mother-of-17, who is recovering from a stroke, must endure a cold, damp home in St Mary’s Park, while “impatiently” waiting for Regeneration to provide home insulation.

Patricia Ryan, 59, of Colmcille Street, suffered a stroke on December 11 – the year anniversary of the death of her husband John, who died after an 18-month battle with lung cancer.

Patricia has returned home after three months’ treatment in hospital, and is currently bed bound. And in order to keep warm, she needs an electrical heater plugged in all day, even with central heating turned on.

Her children and carers, Gary, Eva and Annie have said that the “freezing” conditions in the house are “horrible”.

And this household of 11 people is like hundreds of others in St Mary’s Park, Moyross, Southill and Ballinacurra-Weston, that are waiting for Limerick City and County Council to insulate their homes.

As part of the Regeneration thermal upgrade programme, the council aims to insulate 1,413 houses over a five-year period by 2018. According to the latest Regeneration report, less than half of this was achieved – 666 homes – by the end of last year.

Central heating was installed in their home, after Patricia suffered a stroke. And this was a welcome move, they said that it is a “year too late”. Gary, 20, said that his late father John, while battling lung cancer, woke up every morning in “soaking quilts” that emitted a dank smell.

His sister Annie, the main carer, said that she has to change Patricia’s bed sheets every three days, due to the dampness.

Patricia tragically lost four children over the past 20 years. Her son Edward was murdered after being stabbed in 1997; in 2010, her son John died from a heart attack; her daughter Breda was murdered after being shot in 2011; and her 18-month child Noel died from meningitis.

“My mother has been through enough,” Annie told the Limerick Leader at the family home. 

Eva, 32, who is looking for a warmer home for her and her three children, said that even when the heating is turned on, it quickly escapes the room.

“It is awful for my mom. After spending three months in the hospital, she comes back to a damp, cold house. We worry about mam, in case she gets worse inside her bedroom, because of the bad weather and the dampness, she could be inhaling all that dampness.”

Cllr Frankie Daly has called on the council to fast-track thermal upgrades for the “most vulnerable”, such as elderly or ill people.

However, it is understood that there is no criteria for prioritisation for these upgrades, and that homes are not selected based on individual circumstances. Cllr Daly said that this system “needs to change as a matter of urgency”.

“While I acknowledge the pressures and workload of staff in the area, my main concern are the people I represent, and this present system is appalling.”

“It is remiss of the local authority not to use the funding allocated in order to deal with those most in need.”

Limerick City and County Council was contacted on Tuesday afternoon in relation to this issue, but did not receive a response at the time of going to print.