Red Cross association and St John's Ambulance Association - VAD women of Queens County

I've been working away in the background on some local research of VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment) women who were enrolled from Queens County (Laois pre-1921). This is small extract from some of that research. 

In January 1916, the contingent of Voluntary Aid Detachments under the St. John’s Ambulance Association was launched, with Mrs Coote as the Commandant, Miss Phelan, as the Quartermaster, Dr Blaney the Surgeon, and Miss Helen Maybury Roe, as the Treasurer. The matron of the Infirmary, Miss O’Reilly, and Dr Blaney authorised the use of two rooms within the infirmary to serve as a supply depot. At Maryborough Infirmary, the main duties were making dressings, soaking swabs, and making of slippers and woollen clothing to be dispatched to other VAD members serving in Rouen. In addition to care duties, the women also ensured that those in Maryborough Infirmary were looked after.
The committee of the hospital supply depot purchased a steriliser from a collection of £100 and in addition, each patient in the hospital was gifted with a slice of cake, a slice of ham, a cracker, a packet of cigarettes, and a cigar. The Maryborough Supply Depot were not the only group to aid with the war effort, however, as VAD members came from throughout the county. Towns such as Abbeyleix and their War Hospital Depot opened in September 1914 and organised the making of bandages, surgical equipment, and swabs. While centres of sewing parties were established in Mountrath and Ballyfin, the clothing was dispatched to the Red Cross Society and a sale of gifts fundraised over £50 for the Red Cross in Stradbally.

As part of the research, I have come across this letter from Miss Deasy who was serving as a trained nurse in Rouen.

The Nationalist and Leinster Times, 13th November 1915, Page 3:

Red Cross association and St John's Ambulance Association

 'The following letter received by Mrs. Coot from Miss Dease from a Base hospital in Rouen to which she is at present attached: -

“I read with interest in the Leinster Express of September 25th, an appeal from the   Maryborough Voluntary Aid Detachment for money and tell her for Red Cross Work. I trust it will be it will meet with generous response I feel that I can speak with some little knowledge of the generosity of those who have provided so much for the comfort of our wounded, but also of things still needed. I am working in a hospital just outside Rouen. We are all under canvas. Our hospital can take in many hundreds. Since the last desperate engagement in the West every bed, not only here, but in all the other hospitals, about have been filled, and we have been obliged to erect large marquees, with mattresses on the ground, to accommodate the slightly wounded."

“All those who can bear the journey are sent straight to England; still many times a day ambulances come in full of wounded. Could you visit our hospitals here you would be astonished to find so many comforts provided, good beds, warm clothing, good food, up-to-date operating theatres, instruments and medicines. When one reflects that all has come out from England the great difficulty of transport, etc.. what has been done is simply wonderful. Things require continual renewing, and this is where we feel it necessary to tax the generosity of all. I asked you all to go a step further and to be self-sacrificing; to strain every effort to keep our hospitals up to their proper standard of efficiency, so that those wondered who are coming in now, and will be coming in for months, may receive the same comforts as those who preceded them."

“Should anyone be kind enough to give donations in money, even the very smallest amount, allow some of it to be sent to me, I need hardly say how grateful I should feel. I think I could put it to the best advantage. I could procure in Rouen the especially favourable terms such as articles as the most urgently needed, which if sent out from England would cost more, would require packaging, might not arrive in good order and would probably be considerably delayed in transit. I would keep strict account of how any money kindly entrusted to me was spent which could be furnished to your committee. Articles always most acceptable and which can be made in one’s own homes in spare moments, are - bed socks, woolen capps, scarves, slippers, gloves, mittens, and operating socks.
“I will be only too pleased to receive such articles in any quantities."

                          Sincerely yours,
                          “ Mary Dease”
 We understand that since the receipt of the above appeal from Miss Dease, the members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment have forwarded her some money which has been already expended upon extra luxuries for our wounded soldiers. 
In a late letter received from Miss Dease, she says that although army rations are wonderfully good it is a great treat to the men back from the front to get small extra luxuries. She sends her thanks to the V.A.D. and to kinds subscribers for their valued assistance and adds that the kindness of the people is very great, but not greater than the thanks and pleasure given.'

  Over the next few months, as I work on this project, I'd love to hear from you if you had a grandmother/grand aunt who served as a VAD. The numbers for Laois are a lot more than I have registered, with 91 names recorded so far with an address in Queens' County.
You may recognise someone in this photo, taken in 1916 at the Maryborough Infoimary with Dr. Blaney, the county surgeon in the centre back.
(Image Credit: Laois Local Studies, Helen Roe Collection)
The names listed on the image are:

Top Row (Back)- Miss Doran, Mrs O’Keeffe, Miss Burke, Miss Kelly, Mrs Dromie, Dr Blaney, Mrs Carroll, Miss McEvoy, Mrs. Vanston, Miss Tyrrell, Miss Bull.
Second Row- Miss Cantwell, Miss Madden, Miss Smith, Miss French, Miss Byrne, Miss Meehan, Mrs Hayes.
Third Row- Mrs Roe, Miss Hunt, Miss Gregg, Mrs Gregg, Miss Coote, Miss Mahony, Mrs McClure.
Fourth Row- Miss Turnpin, Mrs Meehan, Mrs Bolger, Miss Jessop, Miss Roe, Mrs Coote, Miss Burke, Mrs Rowe.