A round of applause rang around the Prince of Peace Church in Fossa on Monday morning as gifts symbolising Yvonne Quill’s work with Killarney Tidy Towns were brought to the Altar by her granddaughter, Abby.
But as other gifts and a beautiful eulogy to the late Yvonne highlighted at her Funeral Mass, she was a woman of many talents and passions – none greater than that the passion she had for family life.
Yvonne Quill (née Fleming) died on Friday last, September 30, surrounded by family members, following a short illness. Mayor of Killarney Councillor Niall Kelleher – also President of Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce – led tributes to Yvonne at the weekend, remembering her as someone who led by example and spearheaded her local Tidy Towns committee for more than 25 years. One of her finest hours arrived in 2011 when, as Chair of the Killarney Looking Good Committee, the town took the overall national Tidy Towns prize, Cllr Kelleher recalled. Another Tidy Towns stalwart, Johnny McGuire, said the 2011 triumph would never have happened without her involvement.
This part of her life was symbolised in a high-vis jacket and litter picker presented by Abby on Monday morning. Grandson Jake brought a cookbook, over 100 years old and passed on from generation to generation, to the Altar to symbolise her unrivalled talent for baking, while grandson Luke brought a picture symbolising her love of the beach. She swam regularly at Rossbeigh, and pebbles included in the framed item each represented family members, the congregation heard.
Granddaughter Anna brought a recent picture of the dining room in Muckross House, a painting Yvonne oversaw the completion of in her last days. It symbolised a long-standing family connection to Muckross House, where she worked as a tour guide in her younger years. Grandson Ted, last but not least, brought a family photograph to the Altar.
Eilish O’Donoghue delivered a Eulogy at the end of the Mass at those family members’ request, and she recalled a friend she had known since their secondary school days in the Mercy Convent in the 1960s. She also spoke of her love of family, symbolised by the picture Ted had presented.
“Yvonne was a wife; a mother; a grandmother, affectionately known as granster; a sister, and a friend to so many,” she said. “She cared for her parents, she looked after her children and so many of their friends. The door was always open, and the kettle was always on.
“She met and married John Quill and has been by his side for over 50 years. Though she was a fiercely independent and unconventional woman in many ways, she cared for, loved, and minded her husband, children, and grandchildren until the very end of her life.
“Yvonne’s family and friends have lost a big, vibrant person.”
Eilish spoke of a woman who baked for family and friends, and recalled her time running a café and bakery on College Street.
She told the congregation of Yvonne’s regular visits to Rossbeigh Beach and, of course, her work with Tidy Towns, a perfect outlet for someone as creative, imaginative, and energetic as Yvonne was.
“She loved Killarney and remained passionate about improving and maintaining Killarney’s well-deserved reputation,” she said.
“We hope to live like Yvonne, to give to others generously, to contribute to the community and the care of the environment and, above all, to live joyously.
“Let us remember Yvonne by celebrating her life and recalling the fun, fearless, kind, and loyal woman we knew and loved, who was always the life and soul of the party.”