Woman of the Week, Mrs. E.J. Ryan, R.N., M.B.E., Evening Telegram, 1946, March 23, p.8
Mrs. Ryan left her native Ireland at the age of sixteen, spent twelve years in London, after which she went to the Southern States of America, where she was for many years head of the hospital in Savannah, Georgia, and where she met her husband.
Seventeen years ago she came out to this country to settle in Trinity, where she has lived ever since.
We interviewed Mrs. Ryan in her natural setting, within the four white walls of a hospital room, where she is nursing her sick husband.
“I’ve spent my whole life nursing,” said Mrs. Ryan. “When I came out to Newfoundland it was my firm intention to throw off the uniform. I still don’t know how it happened, but I’ve done nothing but nurse ever since. The need was there, and I just had to do what I could. You see, our doctor in Trinity lives on the other side of the bay, and often cannot get to us, depending on ice conditions. I like doing community work, but it certainly keeps me busy.”
Mrs. Ryan spent nearly five years in the first World War as a Red Cross nurse. When the last war broke out she was contacted immediately and advised to brush up her work at the nearest hospital.
“I can’t tell you how much that amused me,” she laughed, “to be told to brush up on my nursing at the nearest hospital, after spending so many years doing community nursing. And on top of that, when I receive the report I was actually in hospital, and had been for the past nine months. My husband was ill, and I was nursing him. I didn’t figure I needed much brushing up.”
“During the first war, I nursed at Toulouse, France. My job was training the recruits for Red Cross nursing. I’ve always preferred institutional work and have never done private nursing,” she declared.
Mrs. Ryan established a branch of the Red Cross in Trinity. “I have to do these things,” she exclaimed, “I feel we all should do whatever we are best fitted for in time of stress.”
Interested readers will be glad to note that Mrs. Ryan was included in the birthday honors, and receive the M. B. E. from the king in recognition of her many years of devoted service to her community.
“And was I surprised! “ she exclaimed, “you see, I hadn’t receive the government’s letter, telling me of the honor. In fact, it didn’t arrive until two days later. I first heard the news, over the radio, and I nearly passed out!”
It must indeed have been an overwhelming surprise. We congratulate Mrs. Ryan on the well-deserved honor conferred upon her. We know, too, that she will continue to devote herself to nursing the sick, for, as she admitted: “My mind is at Trinity. Here I am, nursing a sick husband, but my mind is back there, where there is no doctor.”
If more of our isolated settlements had women of Mrs. Ryan’s calibre and capabilities there would be much less of the distress that exists at present due to the lack of doctors.