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“The Flying Nun” Celebrates 80th Birthday & Diamond Jubilee

Author, Poet and Journalist Tom Ryan reports:
Presentation Sister Patricia Wall from Ballingarry, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, affectionately nicknamed “The Flying Nun”, after she did a skydive for charity at the age of seventy five years; reached further new heights last Saturday.
The hugely popular nun, who is a former ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award winner and sister of former Tipperary All-Ireland Senior Hurling Team Captain of 1958, Tony Wall, celebrated both her 80th birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of her profession, at a convivial function attended by family members, including her brother, Tony and several hundred parishioners, in Anner Hotel, Thurles.

Other family members present at the special Mass, celebrated by Fr. Joe Walsh with Fr. J.J. O’Rourke also present, included Sister Patricia’s sister, Mrs Helen De Veale; her brothers, Aidan, Tony and Michael and other relatives, neighbours and friends.

The presentation of symbols at the Mass featured Sister Patricia’s Volunteer Award; a lantern; a book, and flags of Zimbabwe and New Zealand, where she has ministered in the past.

Sister Patricia Wall, formerly of No.10, Fianna Road, Thurles and other Presentation Sisters renewed their Vows on the very special and unique occasion when many tributes were paid to the good- humoured, caring and selfless nun of many talents, as outlined by Ms Clare Cashman, latter Manager of the Millennium Resource Centre in Glengoole.

Local County Councillor, Imelda Goldsboro and Fr. Joe Walsh also lauded the sterling qualities of the ever-energetic Sister Patricia who is regarded as a great organiser.  Other Public Representatives present included Dáil Éireann Deputies, Jackie Cahill, Seamus Healy and Mattie McGrath.

Present also were representatives of the numerous voluntary and community organisations in historic Slieveardagh where the Irish Tricolour was flown for the first time in Ireland, said Sister Patricia. This writer learned many years ago that it was brought over from France to Waterford, but Thomas Francis Meagher wished it to be flown for the first time near the historic village of The Commons, Ballingarry (SR), scene of the significant 1848 rebel uprising, (battle of the Widow McCormack’s Cabbage Patch) as a major symbolic gesture from a European context.

Sister Patricia, who featured in a video presentation by Mr Kealy of Ballingarry Community Development committee, spent 40 years devoted to teaching and “bringing the charism and vision” of the Presentation Sister’s foundress, Nano Nagle, to the classroom and in one instance into the home of a person for five years for home schooling.

She spent 12 of her 40 years in school work in New Zealand (six years) and in Zimbabwe (six years). She has been Principal of Presentation Secondary School in both Thurles and Ballingarry and was a good friend of the Arts here in Thurles, indeed I can personally vouch for her help with the production of a play of mine, “Children of the Nation”, which won awards for Presentation Secondary School, Thurles in the Co. Tipperary Schools Drama Festival.

Among those present on the night were Mr Denis and Mrs Sadie Heffernan, who have done so much for theatre in Slieveardagh Region. Teachers and former teachers present included Mr Joseph Moran, former National President of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI).

Sister Patricia spent the last 20 years doing volunteer work in the Slieveardagh area, where she is a legend in the true sense of that word and to whose people in Glengoole , Ballingarry, Ballynonty, etc.
She has given unstinting and devoted service, displaying her many talents in the process and achieving so much, as outlined by Millennium Resource Centre Manager in Glengoole, Ms Clare Cashman.

A sumptuous repast was enjoyed by all, in the best traditions of the Presentation Order and Slieveardagh people, and a night of music followed when many happy memories were exchanged.  Music for the Mass was provided by Sister Theresa of Presentation Secondary School, Ballingarry, with both the Mass vocals and music truly uplifting.

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