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About Us

Our History

How Cope Foundation was started and how it got to where it is today.

Our History

Following the polio epidemic in Cork in the 1950’s many people were left with a disability but without rehabilitative services locally in the Cork city or county. A community response, spearheaded by the late Cllr. John Bermingham resulted in The Cork Poliomyelitis Association being founded which provided physiotherapy services to people who had contracted polio. Demand for these services was great and the Association quickly developed from an organisation operating from a single room to one which had a specially adapted and equipped clinic which became known as ‘The Polio Clinic’.

The Cork Poliomyelitis Association then worked to ensure that the children who had contracted polio were integrated back into the mainstream education system. Gradually the Association's responsibilities to these children diminished as they responded to physiotherapy and were attending the ordinary schools.

The remit of the organisation broadened and The Cork Poliomyelitis Association was faced with providing services for children with intellectual disabilities who up until then, either remained at home or were placed in inappropriate institutions. Scoil Bernadette, a special school for children with intellectual disability opened in 1958 followed soon after by the opening of ‘Queen of Angels’ (now known as Scoil Eanna) which was a residential school.

As the emphasis of the organisation shifted to providing services to a more diverse range of people The Cork Poliomyelitis Association was renamed on 30th May 1958 to Cork Polio and General After-care Association.  The needs of the children changed as they got older and further services were developed. Over time, the profile of those being provided with services changed from children with a mild degree of intellectual disability to include all age ranges and all degrees of intellectual disability. This required the range of services being provided to be increased in number and scope to include pre-school and education, vocational training & placement, varying levels of occupation and employment, leisure facilities and retirement options with a range of residential facilities throughout Cork city and county.

As time passed the title Cork Polio and General After-Care Association became misleading and on 5th December 1988, the title was changed to Cope Foundation.

In 2005 Cope Foundation expanded it’s range of clients with opening of the North Lee ASD Service. North Lee ASD began with a caseload of 50 children for intervention services. This caseload is now around 550 children approximately. Diagnostic assessments commenced in 2008 and the team conduct assessments with approximately 150 children per year.

Today Cope Foundation supports around 2,300 people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism in Cork city and county.

Our History

This is the story of how Cope Foundation started.


A disease called Poliomyelitis spread in Cork in the 1950’s. 


This disease gave some people a disability


There were no services for these people in their local area.


The people of Cork wanted to provide these services.


On the 29th May 1957 Cllr. John Bermingham founded The Cork Poliomyelitis Association.


The Cork Poliomyelitis Association provided physiotherapy services to people who had poliomyelitis.


At that time some children with intellectual disabilities in Cork lived in a home that was not right for them.


The Cork Poliomyelitis Association changed their services to include supporting these children.


The Cork Poliomyelitis Association started two schools.


Those schools were Scoil Bernadette and Queen of Angels.


Queen of Angels is now called Scoil Eanna.


After The Cork Poliomyelitis Association had changed their services they thought their name did not make sense anymore.


On the 30th May 1958 their name changed to Cork Polio and General After-care Association.


Over time Cork Polio and General After-care Association started new services.


These new services began because the school children they first supported began to grow up.


Cork Polio began to support people of all ages and all types of intellectual disability.


Cork Polio started a huge range of services.


With these extra services the name Cork Polio did not make sense anymore.


On the 5th December 1988 their name changed to Cope Foundation.


In 2005 Cope Foundation started the North Lee ASD Service for children with autism.


This service supported 50 children at the start.


It now supports 550 children.


Cope Foundation now supports over 2,800 people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism.