Pádraigín Ní Dhubhluachra
News of the death of our branch chairman, Pádraigín Ní Dhubhluachra, though long expected, was still a shock for all of us. Our Annual General Meeting, coming so soon after, allows us to express our affection for a treasured friend and to remember her time among us.
I gcéaduair, ba mhaith liom, thar ceann Chonnradh na Gaeilge anso i gCill Chainnigh, ár mbuíochas a chur in iúl do Chumann na Múinteoirí Scortha. Ghlac sibh go fonnmhar leis an gcuireadh a chuir Marian amach a bheith i gcomh-pháirt linn chun ceol an Aifrinn Éagnairce a chur ar fáil. Ní fhéadfainn bhur sáith chreidiúna a thabhairt daoibh. Mhol gach éinne an ceol, a bhuíochas sin do bhur nguthanna breátha. Sholáthraigh sibh togha an cheoil in omós do Phádraigín. Bí cinnte gurbh ise an cailín a bhainfeadh sásamh as bheith ag éisteacht libh, mar bhí guth álainn aici féin, cé go raibh uirthi bheith cairéiseach ina thaobh ó tháinig máchail ar théad a gutha roinnt blianta ó shoin. Nuair a sheinn Billy Carrigan An Chúilfhionn, bhuail an smaoineamh mé go mba bhreá le Pat stave de a chanadh in éineacht leis, mar is aicise a bhí na bhéarsaí. Ní miste míniú a thabhairt ar ar chanamar nuair a bhí an cónra á thabhairt amach as an séipéal. Na blianta fada ó shoin thug Liam Ó Murchú cuireadh do Chraobh Chill Chainnigh den Chonnradh páirt a ghlacadh ina chlár Teilifíse “Trom agus Éadtrom.” Ghríos sé sinn chun “The Rose of Mooncoin” a rá, rud a dheineamar, ach ghearán Pat go mbeadh “The Moon Behind the Hill” níos oiriúnaí mar ghur bhain sé leis an gcathair. Chuimhníos ar a ndúirt sí nuair a bhí an ceol á shocrú, agus m’anam gur dhein sibh éacht á chanadh. Mo ghreidhn go deo sibh, agus go bhfága Dia bhur sláinte agaibh.
I don’t have to tell anyone here of Pat’s importance to this organisation, but it’s only one of many groups that profited by her determination, her energy and her great organisational abilities. She was a valued member of the Liberal Studies Group, Active Retirement and the Kilkenny Archaeological Society. She had agreed to give a talk to the latter group on Parliament Street, where her family had lived for generations, but her illness made that impossible. I admired particularly the marvellous job she made of the annual Concern collection in the city. The sheer number of collectors she recruited was astonishing, and the amount of money collected was considerable. Of course, her commitment to charitable work began early in her life, when she spent some years teaching in Africa. On her return, she taught in Poulacapple, before settling in St. Canice’s Co-ed, where she was a valued and much-loved member of the staff. Since her retirement we all experienced her great dedication to our own Retired Teachers branch.
We were all alarmed when we heard of the sudden and frightening onset of her illness. In the beginning we all hoped it would turn out to be something treatable like stroke, and that we’d see her active and well again. As more and more bad news filtered through, it became obvious that it wasn’t to be. The way she faced up to her final illness was an inspiration to us all and a lesson in fortitude, acceptance and dignity. When she moved to the hospital in Castlecomer, we got a chance to visit her again, and discovered that she hadn’t lost her interest in life, her sense of purpose, her cheerfulness, or her sense of humour. I phoned her to know if it would be all right to visit her, and she said “I didn’t feel like getting up today; I’m still in bed.” I said I could call out another day when she was feeling better. “Oh no” she said in her most regal voice, “I’m receiving visitors. Come along out.”
In her final illness her strong faith must have been a great consolation. A parishioner in St. Mary’s, she had a great grá for the Black Abbey and the Dominicans there, and read the lesson once a week for years. The Aifreann Gaeilge in the Friary was, of course, her great love.
The photograph on the cover of the leaflet for the Aifreann Buíochais shows Pádraigín a few years ago at the launch of her cousin Declan’s biography of their grandfather, Peter DeLoughrey. She carries a copy of the book, Peter’s Key, a reminder that her family was deeply involved in the independence movement. It is some consolation that she lived to see the commemorations last Easter. She provided some of the documentation for that book, and when we were getting together some teaching resources for Kilkenny Education Centre’s Subjects to Citizens website, I asked her if there was anything she could provide. She came up with an autograph book her grandfather kept when he was in Lincoln Gaol, with signatures from lots of the prominent leaders, including De Valera, who must have signed before he escaped with the help of the key that Peter cut. Like other books from that gaol in that time, it has lively cartoons by Seán McGarry. If you Google Subjects to Citizens, click on Aftermath, scroll down to the heading National, and then look for Lincoln Jail Album, you can see parts of it for yourselves.
Bhí tionchar ana mhór aici ar ghluaiseacht na Gaeilge sa chathair. Ba dhual di ó shinsear bheith sáite i ndomhan na Gaeilge, agus chaith sí dúthracht nach beag leis mar bhall coiste, mar oifigeach, agus mar “Gaeilgeoir Aitheanta.” Bhí fhios againn go léir go bhfáilteodh sí romhat dá mbeadh fonn ort dreas beag comhrá Gaeilge a dhéanamh, agus bhí sé d’uchtach ag daoine ar bheagán Gaeilge forán a chur uirthi agus an beagán sin a thriail uirthi. Chuir sí féin agus Máire
Íde Bhreathnach ciorcal comhrá ar bun a thagann le chéile ag a haon-déag gach maidin Céadaoine Tí Bollards faoin mana “Is leor beirt.” Faraor tá duine den bheirt tosaigh ar lár.
B’iontach go deo an méid oibre a dhein sé le sé bhliain déag nó mar sin, ag eagrú an Aifrinn Ghaeilge sa Friary. Níorbh obair réidh é. Roint míosa sul ar bhuail an taom í, dúirt sí le cara “People don’t understand that I’m not well.” Faraoir, níorbh aon áibhéal é sin. Chailleamar seod nuair a chailleamar Pádraígín Ní Dhubhluachra.