Storyboxes To Bring Back Memories For Senior Citizens

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Launching the Storybooks project at Fatima Home on Saturday were, in front Sr Laurence O’Brien, Sr Colette Stafford and Tom O’Connor. Back: Ina Mulhall, Karen Walsh, Evelyn Dore, Charlotte O’Halloran, Mary O’Brien and Maurice O’Keeffe. Photo by Dermot Crean

A WONDERFUL new initiative has been launched by two teachers who wanted to bring joy to older people in nursing homes.

Evelyn Dore of Moyderwell Primary and Karen Walsh of CBS created ‘Storyboxes’,  a box with books, CDs and photos of times past which they hope will jog the memories of residents in nursing homes. The project was launched at Our Lady Of Fatima Home in Oakpark on Saturday.

“In researching the health and well-being of senior citizens in our community we felt there was a major need for local memories to be compiled because, in our experience of volunteering in convalescent homes, nostalgia is the biggest joy you can bring,” said Evelyn Dore.

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“We set out to gather as much local historical memories from Tralee and the project grew from strength to strength,” she said.

The eight nostalgia storyboxes are in the ownership of Active Retirement Ireland but are being distributed to all who want them throughout the town.

One of the storyboxes.

Inside these boxes are all five senses to bring joy to these senior citizens. These include archived photographs, old Tralee show bands, books, historical storytelling CD’s, very old Tralee footage and many more historical Tralee based artifacts.

Also in the boxes are sensory smell jars (apparently smell is the biggest trigger to bring back memory in reminiscence therapy), which include old perfumes, the incense of the church, snuff, carbolic soap, the sea and much more.

As a sensory touch, local volunteers have made fidget blankets which are brilliant for people battling dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“My hope would be that in airing this story, other volunteers may emulate the project in their town, bringing further joy to many more people,” said Evelyn.

It was a huge effort but the ladies managed to get a number of contributors for the project. They include: Dan Divane video productions; Office and Ink; Boyles Topline; Maurice O’ Keeffe of Irishlifeandlore; Mick O’ Neill; John Cleary; Kennelly’s Archives; The Kerry County Board; Sewing clubs; Laima Inga Rodenbikere, Aga Swiechowicz, Phil Carmody, Maureen Duggan.; Tralee Mens Shed; Jane Hilliard; Sally Shaw Smith of traditional craft productions; Blennerville Book Committee; Tralee Library and Michael Diggins.

Evelyn has also written a poem about the Storyboxes…

In these boxes I hope you relive a ball
In the Ashe’s Hall 
Or maybe recall the golden oldie
Of the great meats of butcher Foley
I want you to go to Latchford’s for paint,
Or shop in Revington’s for clothes that are quaint. 
Walk down the Kasbah or have a toddy in Brown’s bar
Let’s even go to Burlington’s, I promise it’s not far.
Check out the pulleys in Shaw’s,
With your shillings pounds and pence
Isn’t it funny how it’s in the past tense.
In my mind I see the mccowens on a pony and trap
 Christy Hennessy worked there too and I’m not talking crap
I’ve worked in the tube factory and the ball bearing too,
I’ve even worked in Denny’s which may be how I know you!
The Harty’s bar was the start of the Rose
Apart from CYMS it was the main place to pose,
It’s hams lambs and gams at Victor Ryan’s meats,
Or if you care to dine out the brass rail has tasty treats!
Come join me in this trip to the past,
My hope for you is that the nostalgia will last!

If anyone wants the boxes to loan to their homes or if anyone has any Tralee memorabelia/ photographs that they would like to donate,  please email

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