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Saturday 23 August 2014

Late Nellie O'Toole believed in healing power of laughter

Published 02/11/2010 | 09:30

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The late Nellie O'Toole.

NELLIE O'TOOLE, originally from Phelan Street, Rathvilly, passed away, peacefully on October 19, in St. Oliver's Nursing Home, Merrian Road, Dublin, in her 103 rd year.

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Nellie, a nurse and a housekeeper, featured in Turtle Bunbury's book, Vanishing Ireland, having known Turtle's family since childhood.

'People don't laugh as much as they should,' she said in the book. ' That's a shame, laughing is good for the heart.'

Nellie's appearance in the book led to an appearance in a documentary by RTE on the Spanish Flu and its effects on Rathvilly and beyond.

She was known to have a great memory and could recall minute details of her life growing up and would tell people how three of her brothers boarded the ship to America, never to return.

During the 1930's, she went to work in Moneyhull Hospital, Birmingham but returned a few years later to nurse her mother. She took a job in Drogheda Memorial Hospital on the Curragh, and, through connections, met Molly Doran, an encounter that was to change the course of her life when she became a housekeeper in Dublin.

However, shortly after going to Dublin, Nellie was needed in Sligo by the family she worked because George McArdle's wife died, leaving behind a two year old child called Georgina.

Nellie was to spend the rest of her life with the McArdles, taking care of George when he retired and working as housekeeper for Georgina when she grew up.

'Nellie was the most wonderful person,' Georgina said. 'I can't describe what a caring person she was. She was a feisty woman who grew up in tough times and was a very special person.'

Nellie became part of the family where her cooking skills were the stuff of legend. She was an expert in keeping house and had time for the different generations of the McArdle family as she grew older. She also loved a good game of cards and was blessed with a sharp mind right up to just before her death.

Georgina and her family, in turn, took care of Nellie in her later years but failing health meant that she had to move into St. Oliver's Nursing Home on Merrion Road just three years ago.

She continued to visit the family on a regular basis and just days before her death, Georgina's children and grandchildren got to meet their dear Nellie for the last time.

After her death, she reposed in Halligan's Funeral Home, Rathvilly, before Requiem Mass was celebrated in the local church on Thursday, October 21 after which she was laid to rest in the nearby cemetery.

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