A true lady born before her time

The late Noelle Kelly


THE SUDDEN death of Noelle Kelly (nee Bennett) of Derrylea, Oakpark, Tralee on Monday, November 12, brought to an end the life of a true lady and an exceptional woman who was born before her time.

Born on December 23, 1926, Noelle was an early Christmas present for her loving parents, John and Mai Bennett of St. Luke's, Cork. The second of five children, Noelle's endearing and sunny personality made her a firm favourite with her cousins and older relatives who included her in everything and gave her a taste for adventure at an early age.

Though shy by nature, Noelle loved music and had a beautiful singing voice, although it was only on very rare occasions could she be persuaded to sing in public.

Noelle attended South Presentation Convent in Cork city where she learned many subjects through Irish. After completing the matriculation exam, she worked in Bolger's Drapery and Dunnes Stores before taking up a position in Fitzsimons, an exclusive ladies fashion retailer in St. Patrick's Street, Cork. While there she developed her innate flare for style and colour which was to remain with her throughout her life.

Noelle married Con Kelly, a young Garda from Waterville, in February 1956 and they moved to Tralee where, far removed from her family, Noelle set about making friends by joining a choir and the ICA.

It was in the latter her passion for crafts, which she inherited from her mother and grandmother, was re-ignited. Noelle's circle of friends broadened even further when she joined Tralee Golf Club, Tralee Bridge Club and the committee of the Kingdom County Fair.

Noelle's love of crafts flourished and she began teaching crafts for the VEC in 1971, initially teaching crochet and knitting. Her natural creativity and energy meant she had no difficulty teaching herself new crafts.

By the time she "retired" in 1995 her repertoire included furniture restoration and french polishing, upholstery, soft-furnishings, macramé, decoupage, glass painting and etching, basket making, saltdough craft, flower arranging and paper craft as well as the more traditional Irish crochet, lace-making, tatting, embroidery and patchwork.

Noelle also taught "back to work" classes for FAS, acted as a judge of crafts, flower arranging and baking in the Kingdom County Fair and she particularly enjoyed her teaching classes in Eagle Lodge.

Noelle was an inspired teacher and changed the lives of many of her pupils – men and women, young and old. Her teaching style was a mix of in-depth knowledge, innovation, encouragement, honesty, humour and ultimate perfection. Her pupils inevitably left her classes with a real sense of pride in their achievements.

Noelle and Con were proud parents to their three children – Peter, Anne and Fiona - and later as proud grandparents to Barry, Jenna and David. Noelle was very supportive of her family and proud of their individual talents and achievements. She ensured they had regular trips to Cork throughout their childhood to perfect their Cork accents.

With Con, she was a parent who encouraged rather than pressurised her children and she made no apology for taking them out of school early on sunny summer days to go to the beach.

After Con and Noelle's respective retirements they enjoyed summers spent in France and Spain with their grandchildren. Their routine while at home was well-known – 10.00am Mass in St. John's, a trip up town, into the Credit Union and then off to Dunne's to do their shopping where they made many friends over the years, both staff and customers. Noelle's humour and good nature meant she rarely left town without having met and chatted with someone.

Sadly on the death of her beloved Con in December, 2010 after almost 55 years of marriage, a lot of the joy left Noelle's life.

Noelle was a shining light in the truest sense. She had time for everyone and listened where others would not. She drew people to her, young and old, wherever she went and Tralee was very fortunate to have a woman of her talent and accomplishments in its midst.

The removal of Noelle's remains took place from the Gleasure Funeral Home on Tuesday, November 13 to St. John's Church. Requiem Mass was celebrated on Wednesday morning with interment afterwards in St. Oliver's Cemetery, Ballincollig, Co. Cork where she happily rests with Con.

Noelle is very sadly missed by her loving children, Peter, Anne and Fiona, grandchildren, Barry, Jenna and David, daughter-in-law Christine, Tadhg, sister, brother, relatives, friends, past pupils and teaching colleagues.

May her gentle soul rest in peace.

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