We are delighted to publish The Accidental Activists in celebration of the 50th anniversary of our foundation.

This is the tale of how a vibrant and active organisation grew out of the clear vision of a small number of people who saw what was needed for children in hospitals.

What you will read is a selection of memories and archive material that follows the development of the Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital Ireland (AWCH(I)), later Children in Hospital Ireland, over the five decades from 1970 to 2020. This is not a comprehensive history; rather it is a reflection on our progress and on our place within paediatric healthcare in Ireland.


“It’s particularly hard for those who are far from home and the service we offer makes such a difference to them. We wear red t-shirts or tabards so we are easy to spot.”

Volunteer, Crumlin

“We stop and have a chat, read them a story, tell them a joke. When a child is sick in hospital, providing entertainment is the last thing on a parent’s mind so that’s what we try and do. They’re unwell and they’re finding it all very scary. The play calms them and hopefully we offer a supportive and caring presence.”

Volunteer, Waterford

“I always say that the hospital is full of smiles and cries. There are days I go in and have so much fun. There are other days you go home with tears in my eyes. I don’t bring it all the way home. It’s definitely worth it.”

Volunteer, Crumlin