Valentia woman loved and respected by all

Published 30/01/2013 | 13:59

The late Áine Purcell (neé O'Donoghue)

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1939 – 2012

THE SUDDEN death has occurred of Áine Purcell (neé O'Donoghue), of Rathcoole, Co. Dublin and originally from Feighmane, Valentia Island.

Daughter of the late John O'Donoghue and Catherine Mary (neé Cahill), Áine was the eldest of 10 siblings brought up in an island farming community in an era before Valentia was connected by land-bridge to the mainland. Indeed, her father was one of the driving forces in the community activism that led to the bridge being built in 1970.

In the mid 1950's at the age of 16 she left Valentia for Dublin to take up a position in the Civil Service, where her intelligence, curiosity and pragmatic capability led to a successful career with the Revenue Commissioners.

On one occasion, as a young executive, she was awarded a specially created prize for devising a simple, cost effective solution to an administrative problem that had stumped a special task force assigned to deal with it.

In a time where gender equality was not a feature of the workplace, Áine had the gumption on another occasion to take on the establishment in a matter relating to unjust treatment. Unsurprisingly, she carried the day!

During her tenure in the Civil Service, she furthered her education, finishing her Leaving Certificate and obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in short order. Forced by the marriage bar to relinquish her career in the Civil Service in the late 60s, she left for England following her marriage to Kilkenny man Michael Purcell, and embarked on a new career in homemaking and motherhood.

Having returned to Ireland to bring up their family, Áine diverted some of her extraordinary talent and energy into obtaining a teaching diploma, and took up teaching as a career in the 1970s. As a primary school teacher in Holy Family National School in Rathcoole, she became known and loved by a whole generation of children. Her common sense approach to teaching and discipline was greatly appreciated by pupils and parents alike.

In 1978 she was tragically widowed, leaving her to bring up and support her two small sons Colm and Fiachra. During the tough and lonely years that followed, Áine drew great strength from her abiding connection to Valentia Island and to her family, which provided a touchstone of support all her life.

Among those who loved her, Áine was famous for many things. She had a tremendous capacity to build and maintain connections with people. She never let a friendship drop. She kept an "open door" at home, literally and figuratively. She kept an open mind. She never blindly adhered to any belief, religious or political, yet held a deep Christian faith which she showed through her actions as well as through her religious observance.

Áine's legacy includes an outstanding contribution to the development of Rathcoole community, through fundraising and civic leadership. Her personal interests ranged from bridge to art to travel and hill walking. She never lost her Valentia Island accent, nor her love of the seashore. She was pre-deceased by her sister Máire and her brother Seán and is survived by her siblings Tadhg (Athlone & Valentia), Dónal (Valentia), Míceál (Mullingar), Cáit Tobin (Kilcloon), Seathra (Dublin), Eilís Dennehy (Reenard) and Muiris (Valentia).

She will be sadly missed by her partner Bob Stone, her beloved sons Colm and Fiachra, their wives Edel and Gillian, her five grand-daughters Éabha, Ana, Deirbhile, Caoimhe and Ella, her wider family and her many friends.

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