Willie Bermingham Lecture 2023

Professor Shaun O'Keeffe

30th September 2023
The Galmont Hotel, Galway and Online

The Willie Bermingham Lecture


The Willie Bermingham Lecture, which is sponsored by ALONE, is a keynote address at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Irish Gerontological Society.

The theme of the lecture is generally reflective of the presenter’s special interests and perspectives on ageing and older people. In recent years our esteemed lecturers have covered interests, concerns and challenges over a broad range of topics including medicine, economics, social policy and law.

In 1977, Willie Bermingham founded ALONE (A Little Offering Never Ends), an organisation which highlighted the plight of old forgotten individuals who were living in squalid neglect in Dublin. This was after he had found several people dead in appalling conditions through his work as a firefighter.

Willie undertook his ALONE project on a voluntary basis, whilst still working in Dublin Fire Brigade. Many colleagues joined him as volunteers.  As news spread of the work, the organisation grew. Although it has become a relatively large organisation, the focus on older people as individuals has never changed.

Willie received a People of the Year award in 1979.  In 1985 he was awarded the International Firefighter of the Year award. In 1988, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law by Trinity College, Dublin.

Willie Bermingham died after a short illness in 1990. However, the foundations he laid has ensured that ALONE is still an active charity in Ireland. It supports housing and befriending schemes as well as advocating for older people.  100% of donations to ALONE go to front-line services.

Professor Shaun O'Keeffe

Professor Shaun O'Keeffe

Professor Shaun O'Keeffe MD FRCPI

"Age Against the Machine?  Ethics, the law and older people"

Professor Shaun O'Keeffe graduated from University College Dublin in 1985. He trained in Internal and Geriatric Medicine in Galway, Dublin, Boston and Liverpool.  He was Consultant Geriatrician in St Michael’s and St Vincent’s Hospitals from 1996, moving to Galway University Hospitals in 2000.  He is co-chair of the HSE National Consent Policy revision group, the HSE Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act implementation group and the HSE DNAR Policy revision group.  Research interests include cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance, dysphagia and ethical issues in the care of older people.

Focus of the Public Lecture:

 There is often a fine line in geriatric medicine between providing appropriate and necessary treatment and investigation and doing too much, especially when people are close to the end of life.  The new Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act, including advance healthcare directives, has shone a light on some of these issues and, while benefiting many, may also give us new ways of getting things wrong!

This public lecture will be live streamed on:


The recording will be available for access after the event on a different url.  Watch our website for update.