This is Paradise: An Irish Mother’s Grief, an African Village’s Plight and the Clinic That Brought Fresh Hope to Both

For some individuals, tragedy becomes a catalyst for action and a way to deal with grief. For Mags Riordan, a former guidance counselor from Ireland, the drowning death of her son Billy in Lake Malawi in the village of Cape MacClear led to the creation of a much-needed medical clinic.

The Harrington Auxiliary invites members and the general public to attend a special presentation/book signing event on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 from 2 to 4 p.m. in Harrington Hospital Conference Rooms 1 and 2, featuring Mags Riordan, founder of the Billy Riordan Memorial Clinic, and Suzanne Strempek Shea, a Western Massachusetts writer, writer-in-residence and director of the creative writing program at Bay Path College who wrote This is Paradise: An Irish Mother’s Grief, an African Village’s Plight and the Medical Clinic that Brought Fresh Hope to Both. The two women will present this heart-warming story to the audience. Books will be available for purchase.

In February 2000, one year after Billy’s death, Mags traveled to Cape MacClear to place a memorial stone by the Lake to commemorate his life. During the three months she spent there, Mags witnessed famine, a cholera outbreak, rampant malaria and a high rate of HIV/AIDs. These conditions, in combination with lack of access to medical care, prompted her to open a medical clinic and provide other important services to the community.

Since its inception in 2004, the not-for-profit clinic has become a 24/7 operation, employs and trains more than 32 local people, and serves between 80 and 120 patients on a daily basis. In this presentation, Mags will describe her efforts to launch this clinic, to offer educational opportunities for local students and to initiate a supplementary feeding program, school health program and family planning services.

The event is free, although donations to benefit the clinic are welcome. The presentation is open to the public and includes light refreshments. Handcrafted jewelry and other items made by the men and women of Malawi will be available for purchase. Make your reservations today by stopping at the Volunteer Office at Harrington Hospital or by calling the office at 508-765-6473. The event is also posted on the Harrington Auxiliary Facebook page (

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