John Joseph McDonnell

nephew (1954-2008)


Tommie O'Malley,

brother (1910-1986)






































































































































An Coinneal  Kilgeever Parish, Louisburgh 2009

Tributes to Una O’Malley


An Appreciation

Personal Tribute

Una's Articles

Funeral Homily for Una O’Malley (Kinnadoohy).  Died 20th January, 2009

Leon O’Morchain (Fr. Leo Morahan, founding editor An Coinneal)

We are in the depth of winter. The leaves have long since left the trees.  And another leaf of the parish community has fallen with the death, last Tuesday, of Una (Winnie) O’Malley.  Solas na bhFlaitheas da hanam! Rather than recount her long, personal story I prefer to consider two aspects common of the life of any person, especially of any any Christian.  The two aspects I want to speak about are Nature and Grace.

By nature I mean all the natural things we see about us and by Grace I mean as some spiritual writers say “Friendship with God.”

It’s fair to say Una tried to cultivate both.  Nature and Grace.

Nature, the beautiful things that surround us.  Here in the west we should find it easy to relish the beauty of the sea, mountains, rivers, and the change of seasons.  And other things we too seldom consider:  fresh air, clean water, the animal life, trees, birds – even the local stones – all those gifts (and they are gifts) which perhaps we really appreciate only when we have lost them, either by emigration or, sadly nowadays, by our own human pollution.

Una really did value and appreciate them. Her conversation was dotted with such experiences and memories.  The farm animals, for instance: she had almost a sympathy with her family dog and, it earlier times, for the horse.  I heard her complain how people were so quick to dismiss the donkey as stupid, whereas she found that animal to be clever and, if treated well, even intelligent.

It was good to hear her tell of the joy of the big days in the family, the reeking of the hay in Kinnadoohey, drawing home the turf, the stoking of the oats, the gathering of the sheep from the mountains for dipping or for the local fair.

It may be thought inevitable that that culture, the love of nature, has diminished now in our community.  More is the pity.  D’imigh sin agus thainig seo! Grace, “friendship with God”:  I think the two, Nature and Grace, are very much alike. They can help each other, this loving God and loving all the things God made.

The great commandments told us to love God and love our neighbor. She obviously loved god, but she didn’t flaunt her religious practices whether it was mass, First Friday, Our blessed Lady, The Rosary, the Pioneer Pin.  She was dedicated to all of them.  When she had a TV dish installed, it was to get reception on the EWTN channel to have daily Mass.

Her memory served her well in recalling the sheer goodness, the grace, of people she admired, among whom were included her parents and family.  Wasn’t it very fitting that she was waked in the family home.  When her father became ill, Una came from her own commitment in England to look after him.  And the way she looked after, and worried about, John Joseph, was another testimony to that loyalty, that nature.  Friendship displayed as friendship with God.  She often spoke with gratitude about her teachers in Killadoon, Mr. and Mrs. Maquire.  She loved not only her family and relations, but she retained in her head the genealogy of so many. 

That is such a real loss to us all.

Nature and Grace also dovetailed when she use her considerable talents in family and community, talents which included ordinary farm work, cooking and baking.  Her brown home-made oven cake was a specialty.  She was an influential member of the Coinneal Committee and later of the writers group and her Coinneal articles in Irish or English are still being re-read and admired.  Go deimhin, bhi canuint bhlasta Mhuigheo ar a beal aci.  Ach is minic aduirt si gur ghoil se uirthi go raibh a fluirse Ghaelige ag traghadh.

One particular story which I hope she has written told of the sad, sad tale of how her grandparents were once evicted from their home and thriving mill in Corragaun, and how was how they came to set  up a family home later in Kinnadoohy.

So what is our Christian response to her death?

I think that it should be to thank God for the life and the gifts He gave her, and gave to us through her and to try to take example from what we find we can learn from her life.  Not indeed to blame people for change, or judge anyone, but to try to pass on to others the good traits that remain and gently to correct where we think they have erred.   We will savage what is of value, what is worthwhile in the old and find good in what is really valuable in the new.

As Seamus Heaney might say, “It’s a day when Grace and Nature rhymed.”

Today’s Gospel spoke of the seed dying and getting new life.  A leaf from the community tree has fallen; but it can bear fruit, firstly if we preserve the culture, and secondly, and most importantly, when it springs to life at the harvest of our common resurrection.

Ag Criost an siol, ag Criost an Fomhar.

Memoir,   Breege McDonnell  
Memories was composed by grand-niece  Breege McDonnell and is dedicated to Una by her nephews, nieces and extended family.

With memories sketched within my mind,
Only the right words I longed to find
To commemorate someone who was as special as you,
The inspiration you have handed down to me and so many others too.
From your kitchen chair you provided us with many an interesting tale,
Your love of writing and dedication to An Choinneal came without fail,
And as you are no longer with us today,
We want to remember you in a fitting way.
Your interest in nature and pride of place was always strong to you,
Kinnadoohy and Louisburgh you were very proud to belong to,
And with pen in your hand and as the words began to unfold,
This was evident in the many stories you told.
You were also proud of bygone days,
Traditional things that were achieved in simple ways,
But it is us who are engulfed with pride today,
As we think of you and the memories we shared along the way.

An Appreciation   by Mary T. Murphy, Una’s niece

Una O’Malley, Kinnadoohy, was born on February 7th 1923.  She was the youngest of a family of seven, Mary, Nora, Tommie, Katie, Annie, Bridgie, and Una.  She grew up and began her education in Killadoon National School followed by secondary school in Sancta Maria College; she furthered her studies elsewhere.

Later, she joined her sisters in England where she worked for some time.  In 1953 she returned home to look after her father who had taken ill.  Sadly, he died in the same year.  May he rest in peace.

The following year, 1954, her sister Nora died in childbirth.  It was then that Una became involved in our lives.  John Joseph was the youngest, I was almost four years old, and Jimmy was six.  Una became the primary guardian for John Joseph and me, taking us both to her home to rear us and send us to school.  Jimmy stayed on with our father at home in Thallabawn.

Una was a tremendous woman all throughout her life.  She was a Pioneer (P.T.A.A.) and always advised the young people in the community to join.  She became involved with An Choinneal when it was first launched, portraying her loyal support by becoming a committee member  and also a sponsor.  Many of her interesting and educational stories were published in An Choinneal.  She had a wonderful knowledge of everything  and no better person could trace relationships and family connections correctly.  She was also a member of the Irish Country Women’s Association and a member of the local writers club, marking here appreciation for and interest in a wide diversity of issues. 

My mind wanders back to the years May 1954 to February 28th 1064 when I and my youngest brother John Joseph were growing up in my aunt Una’s thatched cottage.  I remember the many visitors Una welcomed to the house and how we enjoyed listening to the story telling.  I moved back home to Thallabawn on February 28th 1964.  John Joseph lived on with aunt Una.  They were very happy there together.

Sadly, on the 27th November 2008, John Joseph died suddenly.  Seven weeks later Una, who had been unwell for some time, passed away on the 20th January 2009. 
Unfortunately, the thatched house where we once lived is now derelict but the good memories will never die.
Ar dheis De go raibh a hanam dilis.

A Personal Tribute to the late Una O’Malley:  A Life of Dedication of Church & People  by Kathleen Ward (nee Loftus)

I had known Una from a very young age, 4 or 5 years old.  I knew all her family especially her lovely mother and father and of course I loved the dog which they kept on the farm.

Una was a very special person with wonderful qualities, she was a very good example to the whole community, she was kind and supportive to all those who lived around her, and especially for me when I was a little girl.  Una always brought me sweets from town which may sound as if she spoilt me but that was her special way of interacting with a young girl and making this person special.

I greatly admired the way she dedicated part of her life to the care of her family and other family members, as well as taking time considering others.

Life may have appeared hard at times for Una but she never complained and enjoyed every minute of what she did.  She will never be forgotten and will remain in my heart forever.  She is now with her Blessed Lord in her Heavenly home who she loved and served all her life.

Una’s articles in An Choinneal

Volume Year Article
4 1965 The Wasting of Tallabawn
6 1969 Tallabawn and After
7 1971 The Master and the "Missis"
9 1975 New Schools for Old
10 1977 Round the House
12 1980 Owen O'Grady
13 1982 Gowlen Revisited
14 1984 Michaelmas Storm
15 1987 Gentle Christian/Lessons for Living
18 1992 From Wool to Woolens
19 1994 Crafts: Thatching/Live at Three
20 1996 Buttermaking
21 1999 Crafts: Cultivating the Potatoes
23 2004 The Convent
25 2009 Fair Day in Louisburgh

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