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19 Jan 2022

The late Kathleen Allis Cleary - An Appreciation

The late Kathleen Allis Cleary who died tragically in an accident last week

The late Kathleen Allis Cleary who died tragically in an accident last week

Kathleen found her calling as a nurse and it was there that her kind and generous nature shone forth for all to see.

Last weekend will linger long in our memories as we bade a final farewell to Kathleen Allis-Cleary whose rich and vibrant life was tragically cut short last week.


Kathleen was known and loved by a great many people across this country, and they turned out in huge numbers to accompany her on her final earthly journey from Bohernanave Church in Thurles to the beautiful graveyard in Doon.
Though a proud Limerick woman by birth she was a Tipperary woman by birth-right - the cousin of “Ireland’s Greatest Fighter” Seán Treacy.


Born in Doon, the only girl in a family of five boys she proudly bore the Allis name and heard the stories of her famous cousin’s noble deeds in the Tan War. The young Kathleen drank in the stories of his remarkable life and his brave and tragic death at the hands of British Agents on a Dublin street.


Kathleen found her calling as a nurse and it was there that her kind and generous nature shone forth for all to see. For the last 7 years of her life, she worked in Ardeen Nursing home in Thurles, where staff and residents alike will always remember her positive presence. Her friend and colleague Mary Fogarty said: “The kindness and gentleness of her personality simply poured out of her every day, nothing was a bother to her. She would fly around the place at top speed but there was still time for a laugh and a chat with the residents and the staff. She never let any of us down, she was a beautiful person, and we are heartbroken at our loss.


Kathleen was an enthusiastic hillwalker, cyclist and lover of nature. Whether she was scaling the Devil’s Bit or enjoying the beauty of Killarney she was happiest in the outdoors and in the company of good friends.


Throughout her life Kathleen embodied the ideals of her Christian Faith. She was a devout and true believer and a campaigner for the right to life. She was a member of the Legion of Mary. Her beautiful and kind interpretation of Christ’s message was lived out every day in countless small acts of kindness.


She was a champion of the right to be proud of our freedom fighters throughout the centuries. A champion of the right to shout their names from the rooftops; to re-tell their story with integrity and respect; a guardian of their legacy who sought always to make sure their glorious names and their inspirational stories stay in Irish hearts and make us proud to be Gaels.
A highly respected and active member of the Third Tipperary Brigade Commemoration Committee Kathleen was a regular at all their commemorations.


Those of us who met her through our mutual love of history knew we were fortunate to have had her in our midst. She was a doer, and like her famous cousin, she never asked if something could be done but only how it might best be done. She was a dynamo, a woman for whom to think was to act and her accomplishments are indeed mighty.


For the past few years Kathleen was one of the main organisers of the Talbot Street Commemoration which occurs every time Tipperary are in an All-Ireland final. Quietly, behind the scenes she pulled everything together so that this beautiful tradition continues is and now enshrined as part of All-Ireland Sunday.


In May 2020, as chairperson of Comóradh na nÓglach, she was a major player in organising the first largescale online commemoration for the Centenaries of the Burning of the Barracks – key events that brought a reluctant British Empire to the negotiation table. Over 300 people watched as Kathleen welcomed then from all over the world to a wonderful night of history and remembrance.


Whether it was the Centenary of Seán Treacy’s death; the joyful Centenary of Dan Breen’s wedding; or historical bus tours; Kathleen was in the thick of it. She travelled all over the country to attend commemorations of our fallen heroes and the events of 100 years ago.


Her latest project was to erect a statue of Seán Treacy in Tipperary town. For the last few weeks she was busy setting up the groundwork for this noble endeavour - a project that will be completed in her memory.


She loved Irish folk and traditional music and she cherished her friendship with Derek Warfield and the members of the Young Wolf Tones. Indeed, they supported many of her projects and their music enhanced so many commemorations.


She was the proud and devoted mother of Elaine and Thomas and grandmother to Eoghan. She rejoiced in their achievements and unfailingly supported them with a cheerful tenderness. Her family was always closest to her big heart and, her generosity of spirit, sense of justice and pride in those who fought for our freedom lives on in her descendants.


It is difficult to distil such a large hearted and vibrant woman into a few hundred words; a life that was so much more than the sum of her actions.


On Sunday, a soft rain fell in Doon as we stood around her grave and prayed. Eternal peace to her gentle soul and our deepest sympathies to her family and friends on their tragic loss. May the soil of her native place guard her mortal body and may heaven’s rays shine on her sweet .
N. A. H

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