Radio programme explores the life and legacy of Hanna Greally

The extraordinary life and legacy of Hanna Greally of Fourmilehouse will be explored in a radio documentary to be broadcast on RosFM at 8 pm on Friday, August 17th.  Hanna Greally was born in Athlone in 1925. At the age of nineteen she was admitted to St. Loman’s psychiatric hospital in Mullingar where she was detained, against her will, for almost 20 years. Despite several escape attempts and numerous letters to her relatives to claim her out, Hanna remained there until 1962. Following her release she was admitted to a domestic science training college, Coolamber House where she qualified as a cook before getting work in Ireland and in England. In 1971 Hanna saw the publication in Ireland of ‘Bird’s Nest Soup’, her moving first-person account of life inside Ireland’s psychiatric hospitals in the 1940s and 1950s. In the early seventies she came to live in Fourmilehouse, Roscommon where she spent most of the remainder of her days after the ‘Big House’. Hanna Greally died on 15th August 1987.  She appeared as a guest on the Late Late Show in 1971 and recounted her experiences to Gay Byrne in a memorable interview. ‘Remembering Hanna Greally’ is a very personal programme based on Hanna’s own writing and on the accounts of some of her closest friends and neighbours in Roscommon. It explores her experience in hospital and her life afterwards as an active and vocal member of the local community. The contributors to the programme include Finola McCrann, Eithne Quinn, Una Ní Chuinn, and Iris and Séan Allen (Fourmilehouse). Dr. Eilís Ward, formerly a journalist with The Roscommon Champion and now lecturing in politics in NUI, Galway also reflects on the value of Hanna’s legacy in understanding the stigmatisation of mental illness in Ireland. Roscommon county library has this week, organised a promotional event to coincide with the documentary and the 20th anniversary of Hanna’s death. Bird’s Nest Soup is out of print but several copes are available on loan from the library. Extracts from the book are used in the programme with permission from Cork University Press. Efforts are ongoing to get a photograph of Hanna Greally. If anyone has a photograph, they are asked to contact Beatrice Finn, Creevy on (090) 66 25250. Bird’s Nest Soup is a Chinese delicacy and was served at the book launch. If anyone knows why the book was called Bird’s Nest Soup, they are also asked to contact Beatrice Finn.  ‘Remembering Hanna Greally’ was produced by Well Said Productions for Ros FM. It was made with the support of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland’s ‘Sound and Vision’ production funding scheme. RosFM can be heard in Roscommon on 94.6 fm. Listeners outside the area can listen live on the internet on .