So many of us were deeply saddened over the Christmas break to learn of the death of Helen Quinn, arguably one of Longford town’s most glamorous and charismatic women.
She grew up in an idyllic Teffia Park with her brother, Gerard, and beloved parents, the late Joe and Nellie McDermott. There she honed the strong communities values and virtues that stood to her throughout her short life.
She learned the life skills and strong sense of generosity that defined a life well lived and fuelled a great sense of generosity.
Helen never forgot her nursing skills and once saved a stranger on the streets of New York as he was choking and another time, a child who was choking on a fish bone.
She was always willing to bring her nursing skills to the fore to help families as they faced into the final days and hours with loved ones. During a moving funeral mass, her good friend, Fr Joe McGrath remarked how Helen had helped nurse the late Kathryn McGinnity (nee Gallagher), whose son, Brian, died in a road accident just before Christmas.
Her own battle with illness was long and protracted and saw her spending more than forty days in ICU. It was a tenacious struggle no doubt inspired from her youthful days in Longford town when so many families battled adversity and challenges and were drawn together by a sense of togetherness and neighbourliness.
She was a gregarious character and didn’t suffer fools lightly but was a wonderful hostess and her Battery Road BBQs were legendary.
She loved to travel and especially to Florida or anywhere where the sun shone.
Her husband, John, spoke eloquently of her at her requiem mass on Friday, December 31 and to borrow a song title of her beloved Tina Turner, she was ‘Simply The Best’.
Helen never shied away from a challenge and once ran unsuccessfully for Fianna Fáil in the old Urban Council elections. She remained a party member throughout her life and liked to be kept abreast of party activities via her good friend, Tom Donlon.
She wasn’t one for telling them but Helen was in doubt but the greatest achievement of her life were her four children. She delighted in each of them and enjoyed a new chapter in her life with the arrival of each grandchild.
It was a truly moving eulogy from her husband of 42 years, John Quinn, at the funeral mass in St Mel’s Cathedral. He paid tribute to his soul mate and life partner.
Her passing is a difficult cross for her heartbroken family and she will be remembered with love by husband John, daughters Emma and Aoife; sons, John and Diarmuid; brother Gerard; her beloved grandchildren, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, relatives and a large circle of friends.
Helen Quinn passed away, peacefully, surrounded by her family in the loving care of the nurses and staff of the Blackrock Clinic, on Thursday, December 23 and following Mass of the Resurrection on December 31, she was laid to rest in Ballymacormack cemetery.
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