The Elephant Collective, a group of educators, midwives and student midwives and birth activists, formed in 2014 with the aim of raising public awareness of the tragedy of maternal death in Ireland, the need for legislation to ensure an automatic inquest following all maternal deaths•the need for vastly improved disclosure of hospital and HSE reporting on tragic and adverse incidents in our maternity services to make then fully open to public scrutiny.
We called ourselves ‘The Elephant Collective‘ because when the elephant is giving birth, the herd surrounds her to keep her and her calf safe. The exhibition centers on a knitted patchwork quilt which had 150 contributors, it includes portraits of women who have had inquests, a traditional cross stitch piece and an extraordinary documentary on the making and launch of the project.
Picking Up the Threads: Women’s Lives Remembered; Remaking the Fabric of Care to Learn from Maternal Deaths. This was one of the Elephant Collective’s first awareness event and was a multi-media exhibition. Following its launch, this multi media exhibition went on national tour to commemorate the women who have died in our maternity services.
Speakers at the 25th November launch included- Dr Sara Burke, journalist, broadcaster, and health policy analyst- Clare Daly, TD- Dr Jo Murphy-Lawless, sociologist, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College, Dublin . Several of the widowers, family and friends were also present at the Grangegorman launch. The exhibition commemorated the lives of the women who have died in our maternity services. In the years prior to the exibition, eight women had inquests, all of which ended in verdicts of death by medical misadventure. Tania McCabe – died 9 March, 2007, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Evelyn Flanagan – died 19 October 19, 2007, Mayo General Hospital, Jennifer Crean – admitted to National Maternity Hospital, 30 June, 2008, transferred in a coma to Beaumont Hospital, 2 July, 2008, died 10 February, 2009 Bimbo Onanuga – died 4 March, 2010, transferred from Rotunda Hospital to the Mater Hospital, Dhara Kivlehan – transferred from Sligo General Hospital on 24 September, 2010, died 28 September, 2010, Belfast Royal Victoria Hospital, Nora Hyland – died 13 February, 2012, National Maternity Hospital, Savita Halappanavar – died 28 October, 2012, Galway University HospitalSally Rowlette – died 5 February, 2013, Sligo General Hospital.
Following the exhibition was launch on 25th Nov 2015 in Grangegorman, the next showing was in the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, March, 2016 launched the documentary about the project.