Sr Mairead Murphy - An appreciation

The tragic accident that claimed the life of Mairéad Murphy brought almost unbearable sadness. The sudden parting impacted dramatically. Our vibrant, loving, kind and compassionate friend was gone. comprehension proved difficult. Emotion drained the body’s energy. Ennui reigned. Gathered to bid a final farewell, thoughts meandered down half forgotten byways of tears and laughter. The idyllic surrounds of Castletownbere witnessed the birth and blossoming of Mairéad Murphy. A lover of nature, she garnered enjoyment from the environment and its creatures. The changing seasons were greeted with mystical contentment. Literature, perused for pleasure and enlightenment, was an important ingredient, with the peace and tranquillity found at home conducive to such innocent pursuits.

The tragic accident that claimed the life of Mairéad Murphy brought almost unbearable sadness. The sudden parting impacted dramatically. Our vibrant, loving, kind and compassionate friend was gone. comprehension proved difficult. Emotion drained the body’s energy. Ennui reigned. Gathered to bid a final farewell, thoughts meandered down half forgotten byways of tears and laughter. The idyllic surrounds of Castletownbere witnessed the birth and blossoming of Mairéad Murphy. A lover of nature, she garnered enjoyment from the environment and its creatures. The changing seasons were greeted with mystical contentment. Literature, perused for pleasure and enlightenment, was an important ingredient, with the peace and tranquillity found at home conducive to such innocent pursuits.

After consultation, reflection and prayer, the teenage Mairéad choose her life path. Despite the apprehension of some, with youthful certainty she followed Nano Nagle as a Presentation Sister. It was not an easy road. Yet she welcomed her vocation with enthusiasm and joy. Professed, she began her ministry in Carrick on Suir. Later sojourns in America and the Philippines helped her develop and gave renewed impetus to her faith. Mairéad embraced each new challenge with calmness and serenity. Her passion and belief in the Gospels sustained and nourished. An intelligent, articulate woman, she proved an exceptional teacher. Mindful of students, she imparted knowledge with diligence and patience.

After these foreign travels she returned to Ireland and eventually found herself ensconced in Rosemount, on the periphery of Kilkenny city. A proponent of truth and justice, Mairéad championed the rights of the individual. Mairéad, in concert with colleagues, relished this new direction. After a happy and successful time among new friends, Mairéad willingly packed her life into a battered suitcase and moved on. This time, there was not far to go. A few hundred yards away lay her new abode.

Leaving the easy affluence of Rosemount, she came to Newpark Close. A fistful of a woman, she seemed lost, in our sprawling troubled estate. Undeterred, she quickly set about establishing herself. Quietly, with charm and charisma, she began. Her smiling presence brightened the neighbourhood. Her warm heart embraced us. Non-judgemental, she gave unconditional love.

Visits to her home were encouraged and welcomed. Genuinely humble and self effacing, Mairéad always put others first. Their problems and cares were of paramount importance. With loving kindness she catered to myriad and diverse needs. Blessed with a spiritual aura, her very presence guaranteed comfort. Almost unnoticed, she became friend and confidante; her gentle West Cork humour, an integral part of our lives.

As the Catholic Church descended into self-inflicted crisis, Mairéad’s smiling persona gave that austere institution, locally, a humane and loving face. With familiarity, we may have forgotten Mairéad was a nun ― but she never did. Her religious ethos, a powerful example, was central to her being. Her prayerful devotion was a testament to her chosen life.

A community activist in the purest sense, Mairéad’s dedication to our Family Resource Centre cannot be underestimated. A member of the Board of Management, she was at the forefront of daily endeavours. An inspiring presence, she walked beside us as we traversed obstacle-strewn pathways. Together we savoured success as our community conquered distrust and discrimination. Her memory will guide our continued struggle. Her spirit will live forever in our hearts.

Her faith journey completed, Sr Mairéad departed. Haunting silence, in the immediate aftermath of her passing, has descended. Our hearts are broken, our senses stilled, our world torn apart. Nothing makes sense. We are bereft and lonely; grief, a constant companion. We will recover. Tears will cease and laughter return. The indomitable human spirit will triumph. On that glorious day, we will realize, fully, death has no dominion. Then, Sr Mairéad will be loser to us than ever. Meanwhile, in our humanity, we miss her, terribly.

Tá leaba i measc na naomh tuilte go maith aici

Management and staff of the Newpark Close Family Resource Centre