A kind-hearted and inspiring lady who was deeply connected to her local community is how the late Frances O’Connor of “Westwinds”, Tinteskin, Kilmuckridge will be remembered by all who knew her.
Frances was surrounded by her loving family members when she passed away at Wexford General Hospital on January 20 following a short illness. She was 93 at the time of her death and lived those 93 years to the full.
Born in The Faythe in Wexford in 1930, Frances Kearns was one of six children to her parents, Aidan and Brigid. However, sadly, four of her five siblings died in infancy – Margaret, Theresa, Joseph and Maureen. This left Frances and her brother Patrick. Family meant everything to Frances and, while she had a small family, she did all she could to keep the bond strong with those she had. Though her brother Patrick moved to London to work for British Airways, she paid him annual visits every year. Patrick’s love of driving coupled with their shared curiosity and love of adventure led the pair to drive the length and breadth of England together, fuelled by sandwiches and tea and guided by a map. Patrick would document the trips by taking plenty of photos, which he would later make into slideshows for the rest of the family to see.
Frances met her husband Paddy (PJ) at a dance in Curracloe in 1955 and the rest, as they say, is history. The pair were happily married and had four children together – Noeleen, Della, Aideen, and Matt. The family settled in Kilmuckridge, where they quickly became immersed in the local community. Up until her later years, Frances was a daily mass-goer and sang with the church choir in Kilmuckridge; she also made annual trips to the Knock Shrine and Our Lady's Island. Visits to Lourdes were also a regular occurrence. Together, Frances and PJ were involved with the Kilmuckridge Drama Festival and the '79 Club, with PJ even being the first chairperson of the festival.
Frances was a secretary of the Kilmuckridge Branch and the Leinster Council of the Pioneer Association, while she also was heavily involved in the Kilmuckridge Drama Group. These were her two passions. In addition, Frances was a core member of various ladies groups around the county and was a friend to many. She went on many memorable holidays with her female friends from around Kilmuckridge and beyond. Kitsy and Breda were two of her dearest companions. Their friendship spanned over 70 years and three better friends you will never find.
PJ passed away suddenly in 1985. While his death was extremely difficult for Frances, she was determined to keep going and remain involved in the community. PJ wrote the Guardian notes for the Kilmuckridge area for almost 15 years, and Frances took over after his death. It was something she continued with great pride – keeping wider Wexford up to date with the goings on in Kilmuckridge. This role was taken on by Frances’ daughter Aideen in more recent years.
Frances had an unrivalled love for the GAA, especially Wexford hurling. She was known to regularly find herself at the washing line when matches became intense. Her grandchildren would stand at the back door shouting updates – but usually only the good ones! She also loved her plants and garden and this was evident from the beautiful window boxes that her grandchildren were enlisted to help maintain and regularly water them.
Frances will be sadly missed and remembered with love by her daughters Noeleen, Della and Aideen, son Matty, sons in-law Eamonn and Liam, daughter in-law Dympna, her nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, extended family, neighbours and friends. Her funeral mass took place in Kilmuckridge on Sunday, January 22 and a large congregation came to pay their respects. In a eulogy, Frances’ grandson Andrew reflected on his grandmother’s many interests and passions, as well as some of the many memories they shared of her.
"The past eight years have certainly been difficult for Granny. But she lived each day with such incredible courage and strength – keeping us all positive as we got used to the new normal. Right to the very end she maintained the most impressive intellect and wit. She was ahead of her time and young beyond her years,” he added.
“Granny is loved beyond words by her family that surround her here today, as well Grandsons Ciaran joining from Sydney and Tomas from San Francisco who send their love and are joining us today by live stream. She is without doubt one a million. To the greatest granny, mammy and great granny, we love you and we will see you soon.”