Monday, December 16, 2013


Nuala's coffin in St. Brigid's church Killester
(Click on any photo for a larger version)

Cousin Nuala died on Tuesday.

All of her.

Not just the very sick lady she was for the previous fortnight. Not just the widow who had spent the last four years in St. Gabriels home. Not just the internationally renowned flower arranger. Not just the wonderful mother of a fabulous family and wife to a lovely man. Not just the Mammy who used my visits as an excuse to vary the family menu.

All of her.

This has struck me over the years as people around me have died. It is not just the death of the old or infirm person you see before you. It is the extinguishing of their whole life, of the person through time, right back to their childhood. And for those who knew them it is the closing of a window in their own lives.

That's why it is good to celebrate a whole life when a person dies. And it is good that the church is now moving in this direction instead of seeing the obseques simply as an opportunity to stake their claim to the dead person's soul and frighten the bejaysus out of the rest of us.

A happy moment when my father "gave Nuala away"
at St. John's church Clontarf in 1954.

Nuala's send off was inspiring.

The removal was simple and personal. Fr. Donal O'Leary SJ, a friend of Thérèse's, officiated, though that word undervalues the personal warmth he brought to the ceremony. Nuala's grand daughter Ruth gave a beautiful simple rendering of Ag Críost an Síol on the viola. She followed it later in the ceremony with a haunting Bach concerto.

The funeral service kicked off with a eulogy from Nuala's daughter, Thérèse, which encapsulated Nuala's whole life, through childhood, love and marriage, family, career, and right up to her final moments when she indicated a readiness to depart this life.

The prayers of the faithful were all originals and included one devoted solely to the memory of Séamus, Nuala's husband, the fourth anniversary of whose death occurred on the day. Nuala's brother, Tommy, read an extract from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

The presence on the altar of Fr. Brendan Fahey, who concelebrated the mass, was very important for the family. And the fact that Fr. Donal had known and clearly admired Nuala brought great ease, sincerity and warmth to the proceedings.

The ANIMA choir gave us beautiful renderings of Though We are Many and Deep River

The best compliment I can pay the services is to say they were worthy of her and she would have enjoyed them enormously.

May she rest in peace.

Nuala's final resting place, with Séamus,
in Fingal Burial Ground

Death Notice

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul,

Thanks for putting this up. IT's really valuable to be able to give people who are far away a sense of the day.

Peter Hegarty