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Tribute To Late Sister Gabriel Mary Gleeson

Late Sister Gabriel Mary Gleeson. R.I.P.

Sister Gabriel Mary Gleeson passed away in her 90th year, at 10.00pm on June 5th last 2019, surrounded by her loving family and community members, at Temple Road in Dublin.

Possibly better known by her Christian name initials,GM, to all that she came into contact with during her life; she was born on November 8th 1929 in the picturesque, rural townsland area of Clogher, Clonoulty, Co. Tipperary.

Educated at the Presentation School, Cashel, Sister GM went on to complete her training as a nurse and later as a Midwife, in the Mater Hospital Dublin.
She entered the congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary in 1951; making her First Profession in Killeshandra, Co. Cavan on August 26th 1954.

During a working life, spanning in all some 62 years, from 1946 until her retirement 11 years ago in 2008; Sister GM ministered as a Nurse; Ward sister; Matron; Hospital Administrator; Relief Worker; Regional Councillor; and as a fund-raiser for numerous projects undertaken in various missions, e.g. in the towns of Emekuku and Amaimo in Imo State, South Eastern Nigeria; the village of Adazi, Nigeria; in Thika, Kiambu County and Ortum in Kenya; in Philadelphia, U. S. A. and back here in Ireland.

During that tragic period of the Nigerian Civil War, (also known as the Biafran War and the Nigerian-Biafran War), fought back then between the government of Nigeria and the state of Biafra; Sister GM and her colleagues threw themselves into relief work at huge personal cost. Indeed, her family here in Tipperary were hardly able to recognise her on her return to Ireland, following her experiences which saw (following the blockade of the city of Port Harcourt) mass starvation. Indeed, during the two and half years of that war, there were overall about 100,000 military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died of starvation.

Following recuperation, Sister GM returned again to Africa to a new mission, this time in Kenya as an administrator in Thika Maternity Hospital. Over the next 30 years she continued to build and strength the hospital’s services, with emphases on establishing and improving a Midwifery Training school.

During this period also, Sister GM worked through and experienced the worst drought and famine in some 50 years in Africa in 1985; to be repeated again 1997. An unpublished poet, it is perhaps through one of Sister GM’s many expressed elegies that we can begin to understand her great sacrifice on behalf of those she had fully committed to giving support and guidance.

Days of Drought and Famine
I saw drought
On the face of the earth,
Or red raw dust.
No cloud in the blue sky,
Unrelenting sun, scorching sun,
Scorching sun.

I saw famine on the famished herd;
Weary herd, licking the ground,
Glad to find a twig, a leaf, a weed
Dumb beasts, ‘neath the sun,
Unrelenting sun, scorching sun,
Scorching sun.

I saw hunger
In the silent stare of the thin man.
No words between us.
Words are not food, ‘neath the sun,
Unrelenting sun, scorching sun,
Scorching sun.

I saw my heart dried too; helpless.
“God” I cry, “Do not forget
This earth You made,
Now in pain, ‘neath the sun,
Unrelenting sun, scorching sun,
Scorching sun.

I saw hope in the rainbow span;
God’s promise for everyman.
Joy of clouds, tears of rain watered earth
To yield again, ‘neath the sun,
Gentle sun, sobered sun,
Sobered sun.

Sister Gabriel Mary Gleeson ( © 1985)


The first image in the observers minds eye, gotten of Sister GM was that of an “open door”. Regardless of her location, or indeed any persons own personal rank or status in society; you, the visitor, would have been embraced and then fed with whatever food was found to be available in the kitchen fridge.

This hospitality was especially evident in Ortum, Kenya. Because of the remoteness of the area and the dire state of the existing road surfaces, those visiting Turkana or Sudan would, most often, break their journey in Ortum, in the secure knowledge that Sister GM could and would provide a warm Clonoulty, Co. Tipperary style community welcome to all or any traveller.

Initially sleeping accommodation was provided on five large couches in the convent garage. Same hospitality offerings would later lead to 2 hospitality bungalows being built, thus ensuring comfort and space for all.

Through her entire lifetime Sister GM displayed a lust for life and later displayed true faithfulness to her missionary commitments. Amongst her many talents; she exhibited an abundance of empathy; artistic creativity, latter through the very strokes of her artists brush and through the verses she penned in her many poems.

She at all times displayed a love, not just of nature; through her love of flowers and animals, but also through her care of hospital patients; her outreach public health patients; her Mother & Baby Clinics and especially amongst her Student Nurses and staff; many of whom travelled from abroad, to say a last farewell.

A Funeral Mass was held for Sister GM at 12.00 noon on June 10th 2019 last, in the Church of the Holy Name, Beechwood, followed by interment in Shanganagh Cemetry, Dublin Rd, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Co. Dublin.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.

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Thurles Water Tower

I was handed this rhyming, possibly local, poetic gem recently. Perhaps some of our regular readership may be able to cast further light as to the full identity of these three bardic composers, named hereunder.

Thurles Water Tower, Loughtagalla.

Great Big Water Tower

[Gaynor, Rochford, Reynolds – Christmas ’59]

Thurles town has several wonders the traveller loves to tell.
‘The Factory’ and ‘The Station’, the works at ‘Ladyswell’.
But now the greatest wonder – sure it went up in just an hour,
It stands on Loughtagalla Hill – that great big Water Tower.

The town took up the challenge in the year of ’53.
They filled the roads with trenches, they were there for all to see.
They laid ten miles of piping, which soaked in every shower,
And brought it up through Mitchel Street, to that great big Water Tower.

From Upperchurch and Littleton the workforce did arrive.
They made our noble Quarry Street look as busy as a hive.
They used pick-axe and shovel and great pneumatic power
To bring our water rations from that great big Water Tower.

And now the work is ended, from miles around ’tis seen.
It stands just like a rocket base above the Bowling Green.
You can talk about Cape Canaveral, which made Nikita Khrushchev cower,
But what would Joseph Stalin say, if he saw our Water Tower.

But then there was a failure, we thought that all was lost,
When in the year of ’59 it was broken by the frost.
But now there’s streams of water for those hot baths in Clongour,
(Which in Saxon means “Goats Meadow”), from that same big Water Tower.

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Tipperary People Attend Dublin Pro-Life ‘Rally For Life’.

“Don’t give up! I believe in you all!
A person’s a person, no matter how small!
And you very small persons will not have to die
If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now and TRY!”

Extract from the Dr. Seuss’ 1954 classic, Horton Hears a Who!”

Residents of Co. Tipperary joined the ranks of a Pro-Life rally held in Dublin this afternoon, with the organisers of the ‘Rally for Life’ confirming the numbers of those attending / taking part at slightly over 10,000 people.

The Pro-life campaigners marched from the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square, down to the Customs House, in opposition to Ireland’s new abortion laws introduced in May of this year, following the referendum on the Eighth Amendment; with those assembled today calling on the present government for another referendum on abortion.

Thanks to social media, Irish people have now come to the realisation that a baby whose form is hardly visible underneath the slightest curve of a mother’s skirt, can now be cruelly crushed to death and ripped asunder; in some cases to be sold as tissue for drug testing purposes. After all, while food and beverages do not contain any aborted foetal material, they may be tastier because of it, and some cosmetics – those pretending to grant users access to that mythical fountain of youth – is most probably developed thanks to foetal skin cell testing.

Please read the poem hereunder, twice, before commenting.

Unto Us

A poem by the late great British-Irish comedian, writer, poet, playwright and actor Spike Milligan (1918 – 2002).

“Somewhere at some time
They committed themselves to me
And so, I was!
Small, but I WAS!
Tiny, in shape
Lusting to live
I hung in my pulsing cave.
Soon they knew of me
My mother – my father.
I had no say in my being
I lived on trust
And love
Tho’ I couldn’t think
Each part of me was saying
A silent ‘Wait for me
I will bring you love!’

I was taken
Blind, naked, defenceless
By the hand of one
Whose good name
Was graven on a brass plate
in Wimpole Street,*
and dropped on the sterile floor
of a foot operated plastic waste
bucket.
There was no Queen’s Counsel
To take my brief.
The cot I might have warmed
Stood in Harrod’s shop window.
When my passing was told
My father smiled.
No grief filled my empty space.
My death was celebrated
With tickets to see Danny La Rue
Who was pretending to be a woman
Like my mother was.”

* Note: Wimpole Street is an area located in the City of Westminster, Central London, England, associated with private medical practice and similar associations.

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Munster Final Colour

Munster Final Colour


Courtesy of Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

Hats and colours, blue & gold and green,
Munster’s hurling men are set for battle bold.
As ash and leather clash on field of green
A Cuchulainn – ancient story will be told.
Memories of “blind fiddlers” and Gaelic tunes of glee,
We walked the Ennis Road past ‘Jarveys’ in the sun,
Shirt-sleeved, sandwiches in hand, and oh so happily,
We marched to see great hurling deeds well done.
The flags, the teams, the march round with the band,
The hush the anthem and cheers to heaven soar.
The glory that the overhead and the first time pull demand,
And man for man for glory for an hour,
We cared not for the morrow or what fortune sent,
But win or lose or draw to know what hurling meant.

END

Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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Tribute To Tipperary Senior Hurlers.

A tribute to Tipperary’s senior hurlers, fresh from the pen of poet Mr Tom Ryan and dedicated to Liam Sheedy and our mighty Tipperary men, togged out in the blue and gold.

Tribute To Tipperary Senior Hurlers
Courtesy of Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

“By Leeside you held our colours high
In gallant glorious fray against the Red
Scorned the pride of the ancient enemy,
Hurled with blood and muscle, heart and head.
Tipperary men by bold tradition brave,
No time for reputations or renown.

Who for Tipperary and her homes engrave
A glory that is greater than a crown,
Cry the fainthearted, “Tipperary hurling dead”
No! tis alive with fiercely wondrous will.
Proud wear the blue and gold upon your head,
Tipperary men are hurling warriors still”.

END

Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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