Minister Harris Appoints First McKenna Scholar

Published: 30 Sep 2022

Ms Brennan will be the inaugural McKenna Scholar after being appointed by Minister Harris.

Elaine Brennan, Jane McKenna, Minister Simon Harris

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, joined LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children’s Hospice, as Wicklow native, Elaine Brennan, was awarded the McKenna Scholarship. Minister Harris welcomed the establishment of The McKenna Scholarship fund by LauraLynn to further research and expand the knowledgebase of Children’s Palliative Care in Ireland. 

Ms Brennan will be the inaugural McKenna Scholar, she has spent many years working as a Principal Social Worker in Enable Ireland. Having completed a Master’s degree in Loss and Bereavement at the Irish Hospice Foundation in 2019, she feels passionate about creating opportunities for parents to express the emotional and social impact of their child’s diagnosis both on themselves and their family. Ms Brennan’s chosen area of study for the scholarship is “To explore whether early discussions on the experience of loss and anticipatory grief supports parents to engage in future care planning for their child”.

The McKenna Scholarship is in honour of Jane and Brendan McKenna, who founded LauraLynn following the tragic death of their two daughters Laura and Lynn.

Research is an integral part of LauraLynn’s Model of Care and is identified as a strategic priority within LauraLynn’s ambitious Strategic Plan. This scholarship is the first of its kind for the charity and is aimed at supporting emerging researchers in the field of children’s palliative care and expanding the knowledge base in children’s palliative care, marking a major development in LauraLynn’s research strategy.

Speaking at the appointment of the McKenna Scholar today, Minister Harris said: "This scholarship is a really exciting initiative from LauraLynn and offers a great opportunity for the inaugural scholar, Elaine Brennan, to carry out her research in the area of child loss and anticipatory grief. The commitment to invest in research and the charity’s priority to expand the knowledge base in the area of children’s palliative care is important work in ensuring that we continue to learn and grow the understanding of children’s palliative care in this country."

Elaine Brennan

LauraLynn, CEO, Kerry McLaverty, added: "Today marks a huge step forward in LauraLynn’s research strategy and it is a really exciting day as we appoint Elaine Brennan as our inaugural McKenna Scholar. Research into children’s palliative care is still a relatively new area and we are very proud to be enabling and encouraging the expansion of knowledge in this field. On behalf of everyone at LauraLynn, I’d like to wish Elaine every success as she begins her studies."

The McKenna Scholar will receive funding for undertaking a postgraduate degree (MD or PhD) in the area of children’s palliative care. Funding will include an annual stipend of €18,500, a contribution to fees of €6,000 per annum and €2,000 per year to fund research-related expenses.

Jane McKenna, mum of Laura and Lynn and founder of LauraLynn Children’s Hospice commented: "Brendan and I are so honoured and privileged to have a scholarship launched in our name. It is incredible to think that LauraLynn will be at the forefront of further research in the area of children’s palliative care. We are so incredibly proud of our girl’s legacy and the appointment of the first McKenna Scholar is a great step forward for the future of children’s palliative care in Ireland. Brendan and I would like to wish Elaine all the very best of luck as she undertakes her studies."

Elaine Brennan, the inaugural McKenna Scholar, added: "I am so excited and honoured to be the first McKenna Scholar. I feel passionately about enabling and supporting parents to express the emotional and social impact of their child’s diagnosis on them and their family. I am so grateful to LauraLynn for this opportunity and look forward to the opportunity to undertake the academic challenge of completing a Doctorate."