A large crowd of mourners filled St Canice’s Church last Friday morning, to pay their final respects to highly-regarded local woman Dr Ailish Cuddihy (nee Forristal), who died last Wednesday.
At the Funeral Mass, she was remembered by Fr Jim Murphy as a proud, caring, compassionate and trustworthy person. The ceremony was attended by a large number of clergy, members of the GAA, local and national politicians, Cmdt Michael Tracey on behalf of the Taoiseach, Chief Superintendent Michael McGarry, and countless family and friends.
Dr Forristal’s only daughter, Kate, addressed the congregation on behalf of the immediate Cuddihy family, recalling an “extraordinary woman – a devoted daughter, a loving wife of 62 years, and a caring mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.”
Paul Cuddihy, who dedicated a huge amount of his life in recent years to caring for his mother, publicly thanked the carers, nurses, neighbours, friends and various other individuals who had helped the family in many ways.
In her time, Dr Forristal was regarded as an outstanding GP who took a progressive stance on the medical and social issues of the day, sometimes in opposition to prevailing ideologies. She was a pioneer in the field of women’s health, firm in her convictions, and a founding member of the Rape Crisis Centre.
Born the eldest of nine children in Jerpoint in June 1924, she was educated in Thomastown National School, before going on to the Sacred Heart of Mary Secondary School. Her parents, Bill and Kathleen, were ahead of their time in many ways, and ensured their daughter received an equivalent education to her male siblings – a less than common motif of 1940s Ireland.
She studied Medicine in University College Dublin, and it was there she met her future husband, Kieran Cuddihy. They married in 1950.
The couple spent some time in England, before returing to Kilkenny, where Dr Forristal established a practice based at No 43 Parliament Street. She quickly became known for her dedication to patients’ needs at all times.
“Before ever there was Caredoc,” recalled Fr Murphy, “she was on the road at all hours, night and day.”
He shared one fond memory in which Dr Forristal visited his home to tend to his own mother, and before departing, she helped the children with their homework.
She retired in 1987, but remained active in her retirement, taking an interest in St Luke’s Hospital and the Rape Crisis Centre.
She had many interests and hobbies. She was passionate about the environment, birdwatching, geology, astronomy, archaeology and local history.
She was the beloved wife of Kieran Cuddihy, the Kilkenny senior hurling team doctor for decades. Among her siblings was Bishop Laurence Forristal; she was the mother of Bill, Brendan and John Cuddihy, successive doctors of Kilkenny hurling teams; of Paul, a former Mayor of Kilkenny and Cathaoirleach of the county council; and of Lar and Kate. She was the grandmother of Irish sprinters Joanne and Catriona Cuddihy, among others.
Ailish Cuddihy will be sadly missed – but lovingly remembered – by her husband and children, sisters, brothers, daughters-in-law, son-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.