Ella Barnes’ Early Life Nursing in Ireland

Ella was born in Southern Ireland. She stayed on at school and went to secondary school in Callan, County Kilkelly. Ella lived on a farm. As a young woman who stayed on at school she found there were two professions suggested to her- teaching or nursing. She decided to be a nurse and completed four years training followed by her first job at a local hospital in 1947.

A young nurse’s working day
There were lots of different jobs to do including bed baths, cleaning, caring for the patients and serving food. Work was based on a shift system of day and night shifts. Ella enjoyed her work as a nurse. Most of the other nurses were female but there were some male nurses in her hospital.

Night Shift
Ella alternated working on day shifts and then on nights. Nights kept her busy with seriously ill patients but there were more quieter moments than during the day. There were no single rooms that she can remember in her hospital. Wards had about 20 beds lined up equally on either side of the ward. At night she sat at a desk inside the ward placed so the nurses on duty could see all the patients in all the beds.