Family was the most important thing in the life of Mrs. Molly Howlin, the mother of Labour T.D., Brendan Howlin who died last weekend at Wexford General Hospital following a brief illness.Molly (nee Dunbar) of 7, Upper William Street was at the centre of national Labour politics for much of her life, being married to the late John Howlin, a trade union official, Wexford Corpora
Family was the most important thing in the life of Mrs. Molly Howlin, the mother of Labour T.D., Brendan Howlin who died last weekend at Wexford General Hospital following a brief illness.
Molly (nee Dunbar) of 7, Upper William Street was at the centre of national Labour politics for much of her life, being married to the late John Howlin, a trade union official, Wexford Corporation member and election agent to the former Tanaiste, Brendan Corish.
Her close contact with politics continued when her sons, Brendan and Ted, a former chairman of Wexford Festival Opera, both entered the political arena and while she was proud of their respective achievements at national and local level, she was not shy about offering down-to-earth advice when she felt it was needed.
She never sought the limelight herself and remained quietly in the background but followed every political story in detail and had very strong opinions on national and international developments.
Aged 86, she was born in Ferns but spent practically all her life in Wexford where her mother, 'Nurse Dunbar' was a district nurse and midwife, delivering a generation of Wexford children into the world. Molly herself was an only child.
Her mother came from a family of strong, independent women who were attracted to the nursing profession - Molly's aunts included ÒNurse Ennis' in Enniscorthy and 'Nurse Kehoe' in Bridgetown while another aunt, May, former owner of the Dolphin Bar and also a nurse, worked in England during the 2nd World War.
Molly devoted herself to family life after marrying John Howlin who was secretary of Irish Transport and General Workers Union in Wexford for 40 years, a member of Wexford Corporation for 18 years and election agent and close confidante to the late Brendan Corish. John predeceased her 17 years ago.
As a mother, she was fiercely protective and gave support and encouragement in large measure, instilling a strong sense of self-worth in her children and nurturing the confidence that they could do anything.
She had a very close relationship with her two daughters, Mary and Jackie and their families and though they lived away from Wexford, they spent so much time visiting her that it was impossible to tell.
She was equally nurturing and encouraging of her ten grandchildren - John, Sarah, Aoife, Orla, Peter, Niall, Karen, Sonya, John and Emma and was closely involved in their lives and interests as they grew up, enjoying quiet pride in their progress at school and college.
Though she belonged to another generation, she was a very modern, forward-looking woman who embraced change and didn't dwell on harking back to the past. She not only accepted but welcomed the many changes she witnessed in her lifetime. She also couldn't resist new gadgets and gimmicks though they didn't always do what it said on the tin!.
One of her pet hates was to be asked what age she was, probably because she never felt old and had the view that age didn't count and you shouldn't judge people by it. She was not the kind of woman who sought to impress or curry favour with others.
Molly had a healthy disinterest in being ill, an attitude which meant that she rarely attended a doctor during her lifetime, believing that if you went to a GP, you would be told you were sick.
She was active and independent up to a fortnight before she was admitted to Wexford General Hospital and showed her characteristic strength and determination right up to the last.
She died in the early hours of Sunday morning last and was surrounded by her family when she passed away which is exactly the way she would have wanted it.
Her abiding concern was her family and extended family and in her own value system, her greatest legacy is that the family she left behind is a strong and close-knit one.
There was a huge and diverse gathering of people in attendance as her coffin, draped in The Starry Plough flag, was brought from Macken's funeral home on Monday evening to Bride Street Church and at her funeral Mass and burial the following day.
Her funeral, attended by many national politicians, including the leader of the Labour Party, Pat Rabbitte, Ruairi Quinn, Michael D. Higgins and other high-profile members of Labour's parliamentary party as well as Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, was very much a family affair.
Her beloved grandchildren said the Prayers of the Faithful and brought the gifts to the altar while Wexford singer, George Lawlor sang a musical farewell, accompanied by Helen Gaynor on the flute and organist, Ger Lawlor.