THE death of one of the oldest residents along the banks of Lough Derg evoked a great deal of sympathy in the local community.
Dora Benson (102) was one of the centenarians living in the twin communities of Ballina and Killaloe.
Mary (Dora) Benson, who would have been 103 in October, died peacefully at her home in Ballina surrounded by her loving family recently.
Born in Grange, Ballina in 1917, nee Clarke, she attended what was known at the time as the Iron School in Killlaloe, which was subsequently closed due to small numbers so she transferred to Ballina National School.
She and her sister were sent to live with an uncle and aunt in Adare so she could attend a Church of Ireland national school.
At the age of 15, she returned to Grange to look after her mother who wasn’t well at the time.
She continued to look after her mother and work on the farm until she married her husband, Howard in 1947.
In 1938, Howard Benson set up the Benson Box in Killaloe, which has provided employment to hundreds of people in the twin communities since then.
Howard was married previously but his wife died and later he married Ms Benson, who was a director of the business but concentrated her energies raising her four children and one child from her husband’s previous marriage.
She ran an extensive kitchen and garden and had a few cows, ducks and hens as part of the drive to be largely self sufficient.
A keen card player, she loved to play bridge and whist in her latter years. She loved her garden, meeting people and entertaining visitors, family and friends in her own home.
Her son, Roy recalled his mother had impeccable health all her life.
“In the last ten years, she spent one day in bed and that was on Tuesday last week, the day before she died. She had the doctor twice this year. For someone of that age, it is incredible.
“She was very committed to her parish, Church of Ireland, her faith and to St Flannan’s Cathedral.
“She was a great person to visit and call to old people and bring them food including non Church of Ireland people throughout the local community,” he said.
He attributed her longevity to a healthy outdoor life, exercise, the fact she was a non smoker, grew and ate a lot of her own food and because she was a social drinker.
Longevity also seems to run in the family. One of brothers, Joe Clarke died at the age of 93, her sister, Josephine died when she was 94 and her father died when he was 92 in 1972.
She is survived by her children, Kathleen (Bryant), Sheila (Walsh), Roy, Dorothy (Sykes) and Joan (McCrum), mother-in-law to Ted, Iris, Greg and Sam, grandchildren David, Roy, Alan, Annemarie, Jane, Kerry-Anne, Suzanne, Keith, Karl (Decd.), David and Jennifer and her 21 great-grandchildren, niece and nephews and her many friends.
Due to Government advice and HSE restrictions on public gatherings a private funeral service took place in St Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe on Friday before burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.