Local People, Local Wisdom: Adrienne Murphy, Bandon

In this photo series West Cork photographer Aoise Tutty Jackson uses her informal and fresh style to connect with, and share the wisdom of, people in our community.
www.aoisetuttyjackson.com email aoise@92circles.com or call 086 3465373.

Moving to Bandon in 2000, Adrienne Murphy began her career journey working as a psychiatric nurse with the West Cork Mental Health service. As her path within mental health services progressed, she pioneered many new roles within this field, becoming a clinical nurse specialist and therapist before moving on to an advanced nurse practitioner role – both roles were the first of their kind. Her work with Open Dialogue, which began in 2011, originally stemming from Finland, led her to open a clinic in Bantry in 2016 for people in crisis, alongside Dr Iseult Twanley, Adrienne’s values around openness and transparency are at the core of all her work. The Clonakilty Community Resource Centre is one of many initiatives she volunteers with. After retiring in 2021, she continues to volunteer, and has been the chairperson of the Cork Mental Health Foundation (CMHF) for the past two years. 

“I was always involved in community and we did a lot of work in Clonakilty on positive wellbeing with a community team made up of HSE staff, people who used our service and those in recovery -– the idea behind it being to create a link with the community. 

“The motto of CMHF is ‘Is it going to do the person or the community good?’ And if the answer is yes, then we do it. 

“I’ve had trauma in my own life, I was part of the mother and baby homes scandals. I got pregnant when I was 23 and ended up in one such home for six months. Ireland in the 80s was not a great place to live. I had a brother who had a breakdown when he was 21, he developed psychosis and was treated badly by the system. Maybe that’s where my values come from, because he was brought into hospital twice, sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The way he was treated was awful and he struggled all his life with stigma. People who went to prison had more rights back then than people who went into psychiatric hospitals – it always struck me because any of us could end up in a situation like that. 

“The community is so important in terms of breaking down stigma in relation to mental illness. There’s a saying ‘A community rears a child’ – community is really important for getting well, you can’t survive on your own, you need a community behind you, you need to be accepted for you who you are.

“There’s always hope. I’m glad the mental health service has changed in that way. You will recover with the right supports. 

“In 2012, I had a serious car accident; a young girl lost control of her car and crashed into me, I survived and she didn’t. I remember thinking ‘Why am I here?’ Why did I survive?’ That brought me to Shamanism. I did a course on Shamanic practice and it helped me an awful lot, getting in touch with nature and slowing down – the biggest thing was slowing down and becoming present with myself. I just love being in nature.

When there’s an acceptance around death – that this is part of life, it really helps. I’ve lost a lot of people; as more deaths come your way and you become more self-aware, you look at death differently. I’m not afraid of death, it’s part of who we are. We’re only here for a short time. So learning to accept this allows you to cope better with things when they come your way.  

“I’m involved with restoring two ancient pre-Christian wells in Bandon, they’re beautiful. It’s a spiritual place where people can sit, honour, and be with the water. Wells are in our DNA. I think it’s something we shouldn’t lose. We are looking for something to connect to. It’s important to honour the tradition of the wells. They’ve been here before us and they’ll be here after us. 

“We’ve done a lot of damage to nature. I believe we have to respect nature and respect the animals – to see them as equals. Our ancestors lived with nature and the medicine of nature, there’s a lot of wisdom in that.

We have wonderful heart here in Ireland in our communities. It’s what holds us together. It’s everything. Making sure that our communities are vibrant is so important.”

WCP Staff

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