The death occurred on 1st February, after a short illness, of Betty Wolahan (nee Bourke) at her residence, Richmond, Templemore.
Betty was born in Kilmullen, a townland near Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow on 5 December 1919. Betty grew up on a mixed farm which was typical of its time. She and her sister and three brothers helped on the farm which gave her a great love of nature and country life which she retained throughout her life.
She attended the local national school in the village of Newcastle about two miles from her home taking a short cut through the fields whenever possible. She attended secondary school at Loreto Convent, Bray and subsequently trained as a nurse in the Mater Hospital, Dublin. At a later stage she was appointed as a public health nurse in Co Wicklow. She took great pride and enjoyment in her work and was very dedicated to the nursing profession.
When Betty was born the First World War had just ended the previous year. At that time the post boxes were painted red and Ireland was a totally different country. It was a turbulent time but after the War of Independence and the tragedy of the Civil War the institutions of the new state eventually bedded down. Betty often related to her family and friends many stories from her youth. She recalled milking cows on the family farm along with her sister and making butter for use in their home and for sale in the local village. She recalled life without electricity; an era when cars were the privilege of the very wealthy and when farming fields were ploughed with horse-drawn ploughs and steam-powered threshing engines harvested the oats and barley. She remembered the Economic War when the prices for farm products declined steeply causing hardship but a spirit of self-reliance was fostered amongst the people with her own father being innovative by generating electricity and receiving radio signals and her brother rigging up an early version of a radio powered by batteries. She recalled vividly the depressing years of World War 2 and the scarcity of essential foodstuff, clothes and fuel; the ration books supplied to each family and the fear prevailing among the people along the east coast in particular of further German bombings.
In 1952 she married her husband Jack Wolahan, a native of nearby Wicklow town. Jack was a veterinary surgeon and shortly after their marriage he took up a position managing the newly- established South Eastern Cattle Breeding station at Dovea, Thurles which necessitated them moving to Tipperary. Initially they lived in rented accommodation in Whitefield, Loughmore and later they moved to their new home in Richmond, Templemore where she lived until the day she died. Over the years she made many friends in Templemore. She was a founder member of the local ICA and Bridge Club. She had wonderful bridge partners who in her later years were very good to her in accompanying her to and from the Monday night bridge sessions. On Sunday nights she enjoyed her games of whist in the McCauley Centre. She followed the sport of kings namely horse racing and was never afraid to make a small wager. She remembered and could recite verses of poetry she had learned at school right up to her passing, with Shakespeare a particular favourite. She had great love and admiration for literature and was quoting extracts from Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol' shortly before her death. She lived a long, healthy and fulfilled life and could be seen driving around the roads of Templemore and Thurles in her car until her mid-nineties.
Betty was reputed to be the oldest person in Templemore at the time of her death. She was predeceased by her husband Jack, who died in 1989, and by her brother Larry and sister Kathleen. Since her passing her brother Jimmy has also passed away. She is survived by three sons Larry, Kevin and Eoin and three daughters Carmel Ruigrok, Elizabeth and Lorraine Cartwright, her brother Vestie, sisters in-law, sons in-law, daughters in-law, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, relatives and many friends. Betty’s funeral Mass was celebrated in the church of the Sacred Heart, Templemore on the 5th February. The chief celebrant was Very Rev Conor Hayes PP. Betty was laid to rest alongside her husband Jack in Rathnew Cemetery in her native Wicklow.
May her gentle soul Rest in Peace.