A proposal to change the name of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda to remove all religious references has sparked protests by those who want to preserve the facility’s link with the Medical Missionaries of Mary, the religious congregation who set the hospital up.
The Co Louth hospital was founded in 1957 by Mother Mary Martin of the Medical Missionaries of Mary congregation.
However, in December, management at the hospital sent a memo to staff announcing their intention to change the name to University Hospital Drogheda or Drogheda Regional Hospital or Drogheda General Hospital.
Last Sunday up to 1,000 people staged a protest outside the hospital over the proposed name change.
Local Sinn Fein TD for Louth Imelda Munster has said people in Drogheda deserved to be consulted about any change because the hospital was built by Mother Mary Martin and the Medical Missionaries of Mary and funded by the people of Drogheda.
In the Dáil, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar agreed that the public should be consulted.
Voicing his opposition to the proposed name change, Mayor of Drogheda, Frank Godfrey, said the name ‘Our Lady of Lourdes’ was at the heart of Drogheda’s heritage.
“Statues and images were removed from the hospital. But we’ll save the chapel there and the statue at the front of the hospital. They are planning to change the name, we have a different plan,” he warned.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is a public hospital managed by the Health Service Executive (HSE).