The town of Callan mourned the passing of a well liked and respected businesswoman during the week. Mrs Maura Hennessy of West Street, Callan, went to her eternal reward after a fulfilling life of 91 years.
Maura was born into a well known farming Family, the O’Neill’s of Ballintee, Dunamaggin. She started National School at Newmarket, where her mother, Hannah Alyward had taught some years previously. She then went to the Convent in Ferrybank and furthered her education with a domestic science degree at Ramsgrange College, Wexford.
Every holiday time she spent working with her uncle James Alyward, who had a thriving business on the Quays in Waterford. This experience was to stand to her as she would spend most of the rest of her life in business.
At the young age of 22, she married Bridge Street native, Paddy Hennessy, a well known and popular Butcher, who received his training at Mahoney’s of Bridge Street. Together they bought Pollards buildings on West Street and opened a butchers stall where they worked extremely hard from 1944 right up until 1995.
Paddy and Maura were blessed with a talented family of eight children Joan, Beatrice, Mary, Angela, Ursula, Tommy, Oliver and John. After Paddy’s death, hardly a week went by that some of her family were there with her. They were extremely good to her. Whilst she loved her home, she travelled twice only outside the country, to San Sebastian in Spain to attend her grandson Conor’s wedding and to Rome on the occasion of the Beatification of Edmund Rice.
Maura was the Florence Nightingale of West Street. When Avondale Nursing Home opened next door to her, she was the “unofficial matron” as she visited the residents many times daily, collecting items from Nolan’s Shop nearby and prescriptions from the Chemist. She loved helping people and was raised in a family with a gra for helping others.
Just less than a year ago, a party was held in honour of Maura’s 90th birthday at Kilkenny. She was in jovial form as she met up with old friends, relations and a wide Family circle. In recent weeks her health deteriorated and when the news spread of Maura’s death on Wednesday night many people were saddened as Callan and West Street lost one of its great characters.
Many words were used to describe her - hard working, kind, regimental, brilliant neighbour, straight talking and many more. She was a tough taskmaster, she rarely asked anyone to do anything she could not do herself. She was admired and respected.
The Funeral removal and Requiem Mass was attended by great numbers of people, many travelling long distances. It was poignant to see her family carry the coffin to the waiting hearse, right outside the house where she made her home for 69 years.
The Palm Sunday Mass was celebrated by her cousin Fr Willie Dalton PP, assisted by Fr Finucane, Dublin and Fr Fergus Farrell. In his Homily, Fr Dalton spoke of Maura’s life, her family, and recalled times past of the homestead at Ballintee. Her grandchildren delivered the prayers of the Faithful, one of them recited by Tadhg, as gaeilge. One of the gifts brought to the Altar was a framed photograph of Mrs Hennessy taking a loaf of bread from her cooker in her kitchen at West Street. She loved nothing more than to feed everyone that entered her kitchen.
The Eulogy was delivered by Tommy Hennessy on behalf of the family. It had everything, family history, humour, and many stories recalling his mother’s active and long life. He thanked many people, Fr Willie Dalton for his frequent visits, the staff at Strathmore Lodge Nursing Home where Maura resided for the final year of her life and recieved excellent care, Molloy’s Undertakers for their professional service, all her good neighbours, Callan Parish Choir and Altar Servers.
Tommy said his mother would have been an ideal candidate for the Garda Reserve Force! She was always at her door keeping an eye on things and wasn’t shy in giving her opinion on different matters! He paid tribute to a woman who will be greatly missed by her family, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren, brothers and sisters, neighbours and friends.
In the brilliant March sunshine and bitter cold winds, the cortege left the Parish Churchyard making its way to the Family burial plot where Maura Hennessy was laid to rest beside her beloved Husband, Paddy. May the sod of Kilbride lay lightly on her noble soul. Ar Dheis De go raibh a h-Anam.