THE death occurred last month of Tullamore native Dolores Connaughton (nee Nolan), who had been resident in Australia for many years.
Born on September 15, 1930, Dolores was the eldest of a family of five children reared by her father Pat and mother Mary (nee Lynam) on the Charleville Road.
At age 18, she opted to follow in her mother’s footsteps by pursuing a career in nursing and started training in the Mile End Hospital in the East End of London. However, she had to cut her studies short in order to return home and care for her siblings after her mother, a local midwife, fell ill, resulting in her spending a year in hospital before eventually passing away all too prematurely in November 1950.
Dolores picked up the slack and essentially became the family matriarch, running the household and caring particularly for her youngest brother John, who suffered from rheumatic fever. Working in the nearby Salts factory, she was always close at hand when required and her innate good humour and penchant for mimicry helped lighten the family’s mood.
She later met local man Charlie Connaughton, a winner of Offaly SFC medals with both Tullamore (1948) and Durrow (1952), and left for York in England, where they were married in 1954. The following year they had their first child, Marie.
They then moved on to Australia, which required a six-week journey by boat, with Charlie’s brother Bert and his wife Chrissie (nee Prendergast) and settled in Orange, New South Wales, where they had three sons - Paul, Patrick and Gerard. Their nephew Dennis Connaughton later joined the family at age eight.
Just as she had in Tullamore, Dolores excelled at providing for her family. She resumed nursing in Orange at Dudley Private Hospital and later in the Apex Unit at the Orange Base Hospital meaning that, between running a household and working night shifts, she was often kept going right around the clock.
She was a terrific host and loved to entertain, often staging card games at home and having local priests and nuns around to take part, a reflection of her deep religious faith.
In 1982, her family relocated to the coastal town of Nelson Bay, also in New South Wales, where sadly her husband Charlie died from cancer in May 1987.
She always maintained her links with Tullamore but, having saved assiduously, it was 1975 before she was in a position to make her first trip home from Australia, when she spent several weeks in Ireland and she returned on what proved to be her final visit in 1991. With her wonderfully warm personality, she formed bonds with her fleet of nieces and nephews on those trips, many of whom visited her in Australia in later years.
Several of her family have made the opposite journey and her grandson, Matthew Spicer, became the fourth generation of the Lynam/Nolan family to play with St Colmcille’s Pipe Band, Tullamore, whom he helped to win first prize at the 2013 World Championships in Glasgow.
Dolores, like many of the Nolans, had a particular fondness for dogs and kept several of them over the years. Indeed, prior to her passing, she made it clear that she wished for donations to be made to Guide Dogs Australia, one of several charitable bodies which she fundraised for, in lieu of flowers at her funeral.
In recent years, her health declined and she died on November 24 at the age of 88. She was laid to rest alongside her husband following funeral Mass at St Michael’s Church, Nelson Bay on November 30.
She is also predeceased by her brothers Jim (Tullamore) and John (Dublin) and survived by her brother Tom (Tullamore), sister Ann (Plymouth, England) and children Marie, Paul, Patrick and Gerard, her eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and friends, all of whom will miss her dearly.