Her many friends, beloved neighbours and a heartbroken family gathered in Longford town recently to pay their final respects to the much loved and respected Mary Boland.
A quiet woman, who put family and neighbours first, she was very much at the heart of the local community. Over her years, she certainly enhanced and enriched the lives of the many people who encountered the elegant lady from Co Limerick.
She was born Mary Therese Crowley in Cappamore and was one of nine children to Stephen and Elizabeth Crowley. Her early life wasn’t without sadness as her father passed away at just 56 years of age. From an early age Mary was well aware of the value of education and soon found her calling as a nurse. She graduated from St Luke’s Hospital, Clonmel, as a psychiatric nurse.
She was just 19 years of age when she met the love of life, Liam Boland, and they married within a few years. They had great plans for life together but within a year they were forced to alter those plans when her mother died at just 49 years of age. Now the young couple had to take on the rearing of Mary’s four youngest siblings but it was task they embraced and relished.
Soon after the family moved to Longford town, settling first in Kennedy Drive, where the last four of their nine children were born. Later years saw them settle in Ardnacassa.
Mary Boland was a wonderfully creative woman and could really turn her hand to anything. She was an exceptional cook, and loved to bake and was a prolific woman to knit. Few things in the house were shop bought as she championed her ingenuity at every opportunity.
She came to driving late in life and the endeavour wasn’t without its challenges. But like everything else, once Mary resolved to get something done, it was done. And so it came to pass that she passed her driving test but not before failing it three times; inflicting several dents on the car and then famously colliding with the wall of the priest's house in Ardnacassa. The once trademark bicycle was now consigned to the garage as Mary took to the roads with a new found relish and for the nine children it opened up exciting new chapters in their lives.
Alongside her husband Liam, Mary was an enthusiastic and accomplished golfer. The family were very involved in Longford Golf Club where they regularly featured amongst the prizewinners in many competitions. But most of all she enjoyed the social dimension and the friendships that were formed through golf. Many of her most enduring friendships were forged on the driveways of the Longford club.
Having then raised all nine children and sent them out into the world with purpose and conviction, it was time for Mary to tackle the next chapter in her life. Thankfully for Longford and its many generations overseas, Mary’s next calling saw her study genealogy. It was a whole new world for Mary but she delighted in the sense of discovery that came with it.
She was the obvious choice to co-ordinate the newly launched Roots genealogy programme and centre that opened on Dublin St. Over the years she passed on her skills and knowledge to several trainees, many of whom, quickly became friends with the wonderfully bubbly and easy going mentor.
Another dimension to the role saw Mary assisting overseas visitors who came to Longford each year researching their family trees. In Mary Boland they found a lady who went out of her way to aid their cause and it wasn’t unusual for Mary to make phone calls or enquiries on their behalf, as she sought to put them on the right road. All the time she continued her own studies and whilst now in her sixties, there was a great sense of achievement and pride amongst the family when she secured her diploma in Genealogy, as her youngest daughter, Eimear, was also graduating.
Mary shared many interests with Liam and another was playing cards. For as long as any of the children could remember, their parents played cards together and she was an especially proficient Bridge player and was much loved in the local Bridge Club. Much like the golf the best part of the card playing was the people and whilst she was a regular winner at many of the major Bridge competition, often the most important aspect was the preparation, and of course, the all important ‘outfit.’ She was always an extremely elegant and stylish woman and in the best tradition of all elegant ladies, she always got them ‘on sale.’
In latter years she loved to travel and whilst some of the family settled in many corners of the world, Mary never despaired but looked on it as the perfect opportunity to travel. Almost every summer she went to Canada, the States or London. Anywhere to see family or friends.
The last few years were difficult for Mary with the deaths of her brothers, John and Willie; her sisters, Betty and Nora, and especially her beloved son, Liam. But she was a woman of deep faith who prayed daily and bore her sadness with typical grace and dignity.
At the end of the day the most important thing for Mary Boland were her friends and neighbours but above all, her family. In latter years she delighted in the company of her 17 grandchildren and relished each new tale of adventure or woe from them. She was especially looking forward to the birth of youngest daughter, Eimear’s twins later this Spring.
Mary Boland was a truly exceptional woman who undertook and achieved so much in her time amongst us. Life wasn’t without its challenges but she met them head first and in doing so inspired many around her. She was a woman who saw the best in everything and everybody and she a woman who put family first and did her community a wonderful service.
Mary Boland (née Crowley) of Ardnacassa, Dublin Rd, Longford Town, and formerly Cappamore (Co Limerick) and Clonmel (Co Tipperary) passed away peacefully on Thursday, February 2, 2017. She passing is mourned by her loving family: her husband, Liam; sons Stephen and Marcus; daughters, Jean, Linda, Siobhán, Orla, Niamh and Eiméar; her brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, relatives and a large circle of friends. Her remains reposed at the family home and were later brought to St Mel's Cathedral for Mass of the Resurrection and interment afterwards in Ballymacormack cemetery.
A month's mind mass for the late Mary Boland and her late son, Liam, takes place in St Mel's Catheral at 10am on March 12.