A department store cafe cashier who pocketed more than €5,800 was unable to keep up with her personal debts and too proud to go to her children for help.
Angela Martin (62) stole cash that was handed over by Marks & Spencer customers - instead of putting it in the till - 131 times before she was caught.
A court heard she was "no criminal mastermind" and was "always going to get caught".
Widow Martin, of Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to 131 counts of stealing cash totalling €5,832 at Marks & Spencer, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, on dates between July 3 and August 4 last year.
Judge Ann Ryan adjourned the case for compensation arrangements to be made between the defendant and her former employer.
Gda Sgt Maria Callaghan said a new manager noticed a discrepancy in the till takings and caught Martin stealing the money on CCTV.
The court heard items ordered by cafe customers were entered into the till and they handed over notes varying in sums between €10 and €50.
Martin folded the money up and put it in her own pocket. She then gave the customers change from the till.
Martin, who had no previous convictions, made a voluntary statement to gardai.
She was "deeply ashamed and remorseful", said her barrister, Jennifer Jackson.
Martin had been living at the same address for 33 years, the case had been reported in the media and her neighbours "all know about it".
She told gardai she had owed a lot of money, borrowed to pay that, then borrowed again to pay off that loan and "it all got into a big mess".
She had taken three separate loans out and had borrowed money for her husband's funeral. "I'm sorry," she told gardai. "I don't know why I did it."
Martin had been married for 35 years and her husband had been unwell for a long time before his death, said Ms Jackson.
She had been paying €1,200 a month towards the nursing home costs.
"She is no criminal mastermind," said Ms Jackson.
"This is something for which she was always going to get caught."
Martin had lost her job as a result of the thefts.
Judge Ryan adjourned the case for gardai to contact Marks & Spencer to "see what is acc- eptable to them" and what arrangements can be put in place.