Emma Sharma-Hayes R.I.P. Survivor of St. George’s Industrial “School” Limerick

WAC at Tara

Archaeologists on Tour

Two bus loads of Archaeologists arrived at Tara this morning for a Tour of the Hill.

Conor Newman chats with Campaigner
Conor Newman chats with Campaigner

Greeting the Archaeologists, Tara Campaigners handed out leaflets entitled “What You Can Do To Save The Tara/Skryne Valley ” as well as promotional literature for the Meath Master Plan. The Tour got underway led by Conor Newman who was pleased to have the Campaigners join in -and very enjoyable it was too!

They did not however visit Lismullin or the Sousterrain under threat.

Conor leads the Tour Emma Sharma Hayes
Conor leads the TourJohn Farrelly has been in touch to announce the very sad news of the passing of Emma Sharma-Hayes. Emma was an inspiration to all in the Tara campaign, who had tremendous energy, intelligence and grace. She tried to bring peace to a fraught

campaign, and bring sense to the Green Party, of which she was a member. I
remember her admonishing Dan Boyle and all the green gang who voted to go into
Government with Fianna Fail, outside the Mansion House. But the fools wouldn’t
listen. Thanks you and bless you, Emma.

Also at alliancesupport.com Tom Hayes (no relation) says:

It is with profound sadness that I report the death on Monday 3rd June 2013 of Emma. Emma worked for survivors in many ways. She was a true supporter to anybody that was in an institution and would never, ever turn anybody away that asked for help. Sadly her circumstances were not good. Sad too that we, who claim to represent other survivors were not able to assist her when she so desperately needed our support. She would often accommodate survivors in need and ensure they were aware of all of the benefits available to them. She was completely un-judgemental and compassionate, used all of her many skills for survivors and was unselfish with her time to others. I was privileged to have known her and call her a friend. R.I.P.

I knew Emma for years. I was even at her house a couple of times. I remember the time too when she was infuriated that the Greens opted to go into government with Fine Fail. It was to be the death knell of the party. Dan Boyle, mentioned above, would be connected to Susan Boyle, who defied all the odds to become a successful singer in her late forties when she came second in Britain’s Got Talent.

Emma spent most of her formative years residing in England. She told me that she was in St. George’s Industrial School in Limerick. I remember her telling me about children being left all night in a black hole as punishment. She also told me that she had to wear a bodice to flatten her chest. She reckoned that this had repercussions on her health in later years.

I hadn’t seen Emma for some years. I then accidentally bumped into her in town approximately a year ago. I had a brief chat with her.

I was to discover only yesterday that she’d passed on, having suffered with cancer. I learned the sad news from Patsy, who is also a survivor, who resides in London, but is staying briefly with her family in Dublin. I’d also accidentally bumped into Patsy. We had both turned up at the same eating house which we hadn’t frequented for nigh on a year. We reminisced about Emma for a very long time. Patsy and myself had known Emma from the time she went to Aislinn Centre on the quays, for survivors of Reformatories and Industrial “Schools.” It was therapeutic offloading on to each other about her demise, as we were in dreadful shock. Patsy had discovered from Olive (a friend of Emma’s) who was in Goldenbridge with me. Emma leaves a daughter in Ireland and a son in England. I send them both my sincerest condolences.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

A woman who was a friend and inspiration to survivors of institutional abuse has passed away.

Emma Sharma Hayes died peacefully on June 3rd at age 62. She had worked as a nurse in Britain before returning in later life to Ireland where she lived in Dublin’s Jervis Street.  Emma experienced cruelty at the hands of a religious order in her childhood.

Only decades later would this wound that marred her early years be acknowledged by the relevant Order. In the interim, however, Emma displayed a remarkable lack of bitterness towards the people responsible. 

She quietly helped survivors of institutional abuse, availing of her nursing and counseling skills, and her talent and qualifications as a creative writer, to lend support to people struggling to come to terms with the wrongs of another era. 

She welcomed as a watershed in Irish history the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009 that exposed the horrors of what happened in State-funded industrial schools and the more recent report on the Magdalene Laundries.

Despite her reservations about organized religion, Emma was a deeply spiritual person. A student of the works of Carl Gustav Jung, she had an open mind on what other levels of existence might await us after death.

She adopted many causes pertaining to environmental protection and the safeguarding of heritage sites. Emma was a familiar sight on the Hill of Tara during the campaign against the routing of a motorway through the Tara-Skryne valley. For her, it was more than a culturally and archeologically significant location: It was part of Ireland’s soul.

The preservation of Ireland’s woodland heritage was another cause she cherished. She joined protests at the Dail that urged a reversal of plans to sell off the harvesting rights to our forests.

Emma was active in the Green Party and though saddened by its 2011 electoral setback, she was delighted with the election of Dublin North TD Clare Daly whose political ethos and social analysis she felt resonated with her own. 

She organized petitions for a whole range of human rights causes, especially ones pertaining to the ill-treatment and persecution of women.  She also supported the campaign against blood sports.

Her life of service to others and the causes she held dear were reflected in the attendance at her funeral service at Mount Jerome. Representatives of many campaign groups were there to say goodbye to Emma, as were her daughter Brogan and son Vijay, to both of whom she was a caring mother and friend.

 -John Fitzgerald 

(Published in Irish Times-July 8th 2013)

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