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Alone: the First 40 Years

Author(s): Valerie Cox

ISBN13: 9781999726508

ISBN10: 1999726502

Extent: 128 pages

Binding: Paperback

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  • It was 1977 and the bodies of three older people lay undiscovered in their homes in Dublin for several weeks.  A young fireman, Willie Bermingham, who retrieved one of the bodies, decided to bring some humanity to the situation.  He gave up a packet of cigarettes a day and spent the money printing posters.  That's how simple it was - ALONE was born.


    Willie died tragically young in 1990, but ALONE continued and, forty years later, we're still tackling loneliness, isolation and homelessness among older people.  Despite the challenges, there have been huge achievements too: The 'Pauper's grave' is a thing of the past, two housing complexes have been built, ALONE continues to campaign to keep older people in their homes, and we have befriended and supported thousands of older people.  The years have brought new challenges and, as Dublin Fire Brigade's Chief Fire Officer, Patrick Fleming says, ALONE is as important now as it was in 1977.

    This book tells the story of the early years, the Bermingham family's selfless dedication, the people who followed, the new challenges, and the issues we face today.  It is also a memory of poverty, isolation and horrific conditions endured by many Dubliners only forty years ago.

  • Valerie Cox

    Giving a voice to the voiceless and telling the stories of ordinary people in both urban and rural Ireland has been at the core of Valerie Cox’s many years working as a reporter and broadcaster. She spent over twenty years working on RTÉ radio programmes Morning Ireland, Drivetime and the Today Programme, bringing listeners stories of joy and sorrow, of happiness and loneliness, of crime and its effect on an older community. The issues she’s tackled have been many — the problems of accessing the Fair Deal scheme, the closure of rural Garda Stations and Post Offices, the lack of end -of-life facilities and caring for older people in the community— and she has taken up the cudgel on behalf of those in danger of losing their homes.


    Valerie has worked with ALONE on a number of occasions, meeting some of the people who are at the heart of this book: the older people they support and their volunteers. She is the author of three previous books, Searching, which tells the story of Ireland’s missing people, The Family Courts and A Ploughing People. She is also a Patron of Wicklow Hospice.


    Valerie lives in rural Wicklow with her husband Brian, and the couple have five children and four grandchildren.

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