FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Spanish flu claims a dozen Naas lives

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Spanish flu claims a dozen Naas lives

Leinster Leader article from 100 years ago

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Last week we had prepared for publication notices respecting several lamented deaths which have occurred as a result of the terrible epidemic which has become so prevalent and virulent in our midst, the Leinster Leader reported on October 26, 1918.

Owing to the difficulties under which our paper was produced, these failed to appear in our columns (the paper’s editor revealed elsewhere that this was because so many of the staff were struck down by flu). Since then the list of fatal cases has been sadly augmented, upwards of a dozen deaths having occurred in the town of Naas alone up to the beginning of this week, while a few homes have been prostrated by the disease.

Many or most of these deaths have occurred amongst our youth, and all are of the saddest character, and this prevents us from particularising in our references, which under the terrible circumstances must be of a general character.

A gloom seems to hang over the affected districts since the visitation manifested its virulence, and this is accentuated in Naas after nightfall by the absence of business and of the usual lighting of the shops and street lamps.

The employees at the gasworks, like those in other institutions, have suffered from the ravages of the malady, and in almost every direction business has been interfered with. In face of such a situation we are unable to give that satisfaction we would desire in the presentation of reports of public bodies, news items and notes and comments on current affairs, and also in separately recounting the sad circumstances attending the deaths which have caused such sorrow in our midst.

We feel sure that the stricken relatives of those who have fallen victim to the pestilence will make due allowance for our inability to meet their wishes in this respect, and respectfully beg them to accept our sympathy with them.

References to the necessity of organised efforts to assist those families which stand in need of nursing and nourishment have led to some helpful results, and individual attention has been forthcoming. In this connection it is but bare justice to say that our local medical practitioners in Naas have acted up to the highest traditions of their profession and in two cases, namely that of Doctor Murphy and Doctor O’Donel Brown, they kept devotedly to their duties until stricken down themselves with the disease.

Our respected pastor Rev Father Norris PP and the local clergy have also been doing all in their power to alleviate the sufferings of families stricken by the disease. The St. Vincent de Paul Society and individual prominent citizens are doing good, useful and charitable work, and we hope that these efforts will be supplemented until every family in need of it receives aid.

Some terrible cases have been witnessed during the week of several members of the same family suffering from the malady occupying the same small apartment and in some instances even the same bed. Conditions such as these, as well as absence of proper nursing arrangements, must in themselves be responsible for the rapid propagation of the disease and the virulence it has assumed.

With the perfection of the arrangements now going forward, we sincerely trust that we have seen the worst of the disease and that it will abate in the county.