PEOPLE throughout Enniscorthy and beyond were saddened recently to learn of the passing of Kathleen Mahon (nee: Dunne), from 100 St Aidan’s Villas, Enniscorthy.
Born and reared at that address, Kathleen passed away peacefully in her home on Monday, January 16.
Along with her husband, Donal, Kathleen was an extremely popular member of her community who was held in very high regard by all who knew her.
The family home in St Aidan’s Villas was very much an open and welcoming house. It was the location for many social get-togethers and Kathleen, with her fun-loving optimistic nature, was always at the heart of it, singing and dancing to Joe Dolan.
She also loved living in her family home and created cherished memories for her own family as she herself had of growing up there.
Family was everything to her and she got great joy from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and even in her final days, seeing them brought back a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face.
Coming from a deep-rooted sports family, Kathleen was a very talented camogie player in her youth and her competitive nature meant she was never going to let her brothers have all the limelight.
She played for St Ibars and one of her teammates was Ita Kinnard whose late husband, Matty, first taught Kathleen how to play the accordion, with music being another of her many talents.
She never learned to read music, however, but her natural ear for a tune meant she didn’t need to read it because she absolutely felt it.
Kathleen was also a very talented Irish dancer, having been taught by her mother in the Dunne School of Irish Dancing.
She also followed in her mother’s footsteps and set up the Mahon School of Irish Dancing in the 1970s.
She first taught dancing in her own house in St. Aidan’s Villas, then in the shed’s in Bellefield and later in the clubhouse. She taught all over the county in places such as Ballymurphy, Oylegate, Ballyroebuck, the Ballagh, and Oulart along with Kildavin, in Co Carlow.
However, before that she met the man who would become the love of her life, her beloved husband, Donal, from the Shannon area of Enniscorthy.
They were married in 1966 and settled in London with their first born son, Terence. They lived close to her sister, Eileen and her husband, PJ Fortune.
Unfortunately, Kathleen and Eileen’s dad, Ger Dunne, passed away suddenly and then Kathleen and Donal made the decision to go back to Enniscorthy to live with Kathleen’s mam in 100 St Aidan’s Villas.
They went to have four more children and while rearing her family took up a lot of her time it didn’t stop her giving more of her time and talent as a musician and dancer.
Extremely passionate about music Kathleen got involved in Ceoltais Ceoltoirí Eireann and she was instrumental in bringing the Fleadh Ceoil to Enniscorthy two years in a row, in 1999 and 2000.
She organised the Ceoltais float for St. Patrick’s Day and had her family dancing and playing music on it. She would also organise a session of music afterwards in Cogan’s Pub on the quay and in Doyle’s pub in later years.
Kathleen also organised many trad sessions and when her sister moved back from the UK she also attended Kathleen’s weekly music sessions along with their mam.
In addition to her own dancing school Kathleen also put a lot of time and dedication into setting up the Starlight Set Dancers and she also put a lot of work into preparing musicians for participation in Scor Na Nóg competitions.
Kathleen was a very social person who loved being around her family and friends, and she really enjoyed cards on Monday nights and darts on Wednesdays.
Kathleen, along with her husband, was extremely popular in the Bellefield area of Enniscorthy and such the close-knit nature of the community around them that local people were as much family as friends to Kathleen.
Indelibly linked to the social fabric of Enniscorthy, a place she was extremely proud to be from, she was also involved with the Strawberry Fair committee for many years.
Kathleen was also very proud of being from Wexford but when she saw her native town coming alive with music and dance it filled her with happiness.
She loved teaching the Wexford set and Irish step dancing and she left her hugely positive influence on hundreds of young people from across County Wexford and beyond from her time teaching.
She also taught Irish dancing while playing the piano accordion, which was a skill in itself, but she was an extremely talented lady who always adopted the attitude that if a job was worth doing it was worth doing right.
However, despite her numerous talents she was also very down to earth and was a person of modest disposition. Kathleen’s life was one well lived with lots of fun, laughter and dedication to her family and friends.
She drove the taxi for many years and loved meeting and talking to the people she ferried around. She enjoyed hearing all their stories and often left the dinner turned down low because she wouldn’t let anyone down or wouldn’t want them waiting.
Kathleen’s family is extremely appreciative of the support she received in Wexford General Hospital, Castle Gardens Nursing Home and from her carers, Sarah, Bernie, Sandra and Jessie, and also Wexford Hospice Homecare.
However, the kindness she was shown by her carers was reciprocated in kind by Kathleen herself throughout her life which was one of selfless dedication to others whether it be towards her husband and family or her music students.
She is now reunited with her beloved parents, brothers and her dear sister, Eileen, and in that her family find comfort.
Kathleen was a most loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and her passing has left a void in her family’s life that will never be filled.
Following requiem mass in St Aidan’s Cathedral, Kathleen’s remains were laid to rest in Enniscorthy Cemetery.
She is survived by her beloved husband, Donal, her children, Terence, Damian, Don, Kathriona and Tomas, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, daughters-in-law, Liz, Trish, Carmel and Bridget, son-in-law, PJ, brother-in-law, Ollie, sisters-in-law, Nuala, Elsie, Theresa, Tina, Bronwyn and Betty, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and large circle of friends.