Coolmine Therapeutic Community was the first, and for almost a decade, the only voluntary body concerned with the treatment of addicts in Dublin. Established in 1973, the initiative for this development came from Lord Paddy Rossmore, an Anglo-Irish peer who became interested in drug problems from seeing friends get into difficulties.
Lord Rossmore, having visited Phoenix House in London, invited Brian Delaney and Jacqueline Ballard to Ireland to establish a therapeutic community at Coolmine Lodge. Financial support came from the Eastern Health Board, with the support of Professor Ivor Browne, from a range of other statutory sources and from voluntary fundraising.
For the first seven years of its existence Coolmine remained a relatively small service and it was not until the major growth in the prevalence of heroin use in Dublin from 1980 onwards that Coolmine entered an expansionist stage. In 1983 Coolmine acquired a new residential facility, near Navan in Co. Meath, which was capable of accommodating up to a hundred individuals. A strong cooperative relationship developed between Jervis Street and Coolmine throughout the 1980`s. A separate women`s service was established in 1989 at Ashleigh House.
Brian Delaney was our first CEO, followed in 1978 by Jim Comberton who acted as Executive Chairman. He was assisted by Tom McGarry who was Programme Director. In 1998 Jim retired and Tom left us around the same time. The separate programme for women, mentioned above, was established by Jim and Tom. Liam Hickey was our next CEO, and an independent chairperson of the board, Martin Tansey, then Head of the Probation and Welfare Service, was appointed. David Keenan served as our CEO, from 2000 to 2003. Paul Conlon then became our next CEO in 2004. Paul made a lot of changes over the years and one of his major achievements was to open up the only mother & child residential treatment service in Ireland. 2013 marks another change in Coolmine’s forty year history when our former Head of Services, Pauline McKeown, became our new Chief Executive Officer.