THE joy and enthusiasm brought by Swiss native, Cornelia Wahli, to her adopted home in Tulla, was remembered at her funeral mass last Sunday (June 12).
A passionate environmentalist, Cornelia came to Ireland as an au pair, bidding farewell to her native Frauenfeld in Thurgau, Switzerland. She lived for a time in Dublin, and later on Tory Island, before moving to Clare and becoming deeply involved in community life and environmental activism.
She was a prominent member of The Clare Public Participation Network (PPN) and the instigator of climate initiatives including ‘Operation Deplastification’ and ‘Slim Your Bin’. Cornelia had also made a major submission to the forthcoming Clare County Development Plan.
In it, she urged people to work towards an organic and chemical-free Clare over the coming decades. She told The Champion, at the time, that the inspiration for this vision was her granddaughter and other children whom she hoped would grow up in a flourishing environment.
In Tulla, Cornelia was deeply involved in organising the annual St Patrick’s Day parade. She was also a member of the Friary Choir in Ennis. On Sunday last in Tulla, that choir performed in Cornelia’s honour at requiem mass which was concelebrated by Parish Priest of Tulla, Fr Brendan Quinlivan, and Fr Joe Condren of Ennis Friary, at St Peter and St Paul’s Church.
Fr Quinlivan extended the sympathy of the community to Cornelia’s mother Alice; her sisters Barbara and Monika; her daughter, Yasmin and her granddaughter, Amelia. Cornelia was predeceased by her father, Hans.
Fr Quinlivan described the huge dignity and courage that Cornelia had shown in the face of her illness. He described her as “a great searcher and seeker of truth” and spoke of how her sense of adventure had brought her to Ireland. “Coming from a landlocked country, she had a great love of the sea,” he said. “She loved the power of God’s creation and lived for a while on Tory Island, a true place of beauty that is close to God.”
After moving to Clare, Cornelia had become “an integral part of the community in Tulla,” Fr Quinlivan said. “She was a great support to the Country Markets and deeply involved in the St Patrick’s Day parade. She made such good friends and was so faithful and so loving.”
Fr Quinlivan said that Cornelia’s greatest achievement was as “a loving mother, a doting grandmother and a gentle sister”. He also spoke of her as a great explorer in terms of her faith, having come from the Lutheran Christian tradition. “She appreciated the spirituality of St Francis and found a great sense of community too as part of The Friary Choir,” the Tulla Parish Priest said.
Clare PPN also paid tribute to Cornelia on its Facebook page, saying: “Cornelia was a member of the PPN Secretariat and was the PPN environmental rep on the Local Community Development Committee of Clare County Council. She was also a member of Clare Environmental Network where she devoted her time to promoting the importance of biodiversity and ‘de-plastification’.
Her enthusiasm, dedication and attention to detail will be missed and Clare PPN extends our sympathy to her extended family.”
In an online tribute, activist and Clare PPN member Theresa O’Donohoe said: “Cornelia was a force for good fighting for environmental issues in her drive to leave the world a better place for Amelia. We will miss her and really appreciate all her work with Clare Environmental Network and the Hands Off Ennis Post Office Field campaign.”