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A long and colourful life recalled

TRIBUTES were paid this week to the late Mrs Margaret O’Dea, 66 O’Connell Street who lived a long, eventful and colourful life.
It was recalled that many of her deeds included the treatment of people in Birmingam during the bombing blitz during the Second World War and during her many years as midwife, she also helped bring generations of people into the world.
Aged 92 years, the former Margaret O’Brien from Cappafeean, Crusheen, died at Kilcolgan Nursing Home on Friday last. She was married to the late  Michael O’Dea and for many years and was a familar figure in the running of the well-known grocery shop and bar business on O’Connell Street.
The eldest of a family of six girls and five boys, her parents were Johnny O’Brien and Mary Ann (nee McMahon).
Educated locally, she emigrated to England in 1937 before the war years. After taking up residence in Birmingham, she trained as a general nurse and later as a midwife at Dudley Royal Hospital.
At her funeral mass in Ennis on Monday, one of her sons, Mick, recalled  that during the war years and bombing blitz, she cycled around Birmingham equipped with a gas mark and helmet to attend to the injured and assist families who lost their loved ones. At that time, her family would have preferred to see her return home but understanding the pressure on her work colleagues, she decided to remain on and help them in the hospital. In post-war years, she met the Queen Mother, who thanked nurses for their dedication to duty during difficult times.
Soon after the new County Hospital was opened in Ennis, Margaret O’Brien applied for a position and following her appointment, worked for years as a midwife with the late Dr William F O’Keeffe.
During that time, Darragh native, Michael O’Dea returned from working in Boston, Massachusetts with his brother, Tom. Together, they bought a premises and established a grocery and bar buisiness at 66, O’Connell Steet.
At a nurses’ dance in the Queen’s Hotel, Ennis, Margaret met Michael and they got married in 1949. She assisted in the running of the business and after the death of Tom, in 1966, and her husband, Michael, in 1997 at the age of 89 years, Mrs O’Dea continued to trade sucessfully with the help of members of her family – two boys and three girls and her brother, Pat.
Apart from locals, the bar was also much frequented over the years by returning emigrants to renew old acquanitances and reflect on earlier times in Ennis and Crusheen.
A devoted member of the Third Order of St Francis at Ennis Franciscan Friary where she was a monthly prayer reader, she also had happy memories of her years as a member of  Ennis ICA.
Well known in Ennis and throughout the county, Mrs O’Dea will be remembered as a very kind, gentle and popular person and one who looked after and  appeciated her customers in her own unique way. It was indeed the end of an era when she decied to retire from business in 1982.
Since then, she was looked after by her son, John in O’Connell Street and  four years ago, she went to live with her daughter, Mary, and her husband Denis Kearney in Galway. She spent the last few months of her life in the care of the staff of Kilcolgan Nursing Home.
Her remains were removed from Kennedy’s Funeral Home to her O’Connell Street home on Sunday evening and were shouldered to the  nearby Cathedral on Monday for noon mass, the chief celebrant of which was Fr Tom Hogan. On both days, there were large attendances of friends, customers and people from all walks of life, some of whom she helped bring into the world. 
Her funeral took place to Drumcliffe Cemetery on Monday afternoon with Fr Hogan officiating at the graveside.
Mrs O’Dea is survived by her sons John (Ennis) and Mick (Dublin); daughters, Mary Kearney (Galway), Anne O’Dea Hestbeck (California, USA) and Claire O’Dea (Limerick); brothers, Mattie (Crusheen) and Sean, (Quin); sisters, Chris O’Halloran (Bunahow, County Galway), Phil Nilan (Lough Cutra,), Josie Horan (Doora, Ennis) and Helen Keers (London) sons-in-law, eight grandchildren, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.
TM

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