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Obituaries 16-06-2012

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 13th June, 2012 4:45pm

Obituaries 16-06-2012

The late Mr Nick Healy watering plants at Aqua Restaurant in Howth, where he had been running the vegetable garden for the past three years to supply produce to the restaurant.

Nicholas Healy, Dunderry Lodge and Howth

Some 30 years ago, the constant sighting of celebrities and swanky cars around the back roads of Dunderry became quite the norm, as the reputation of the Dunderry Lodge restaurant grew, as did its collection of accolades and awards.

Responsible for this was Mr Nicholas (Nick) Healy and his late wife, Catherine, who opened the restaurant on the former Darcy farm at Ballardin in 1977. Catherine was one of the country's most distinguished chefs, and her husband, who has died, looked after the front of house aspect of the establishment. The couple continued to operate the highly successful business until Mrs Healy became ill and they sold Dunderry Lodge in 1990.

Their establishment of a high profile and thriving business in the face of the gloomy economic era of the 1970s and '80s could act as an inspiration for many today as the country again experiences difficult economic times. Shortly after his marriage to Catherine Strong, from Kells, deceased started working in the wine business, spending five years working with a variety of companies in Dublin. The economic climate was in a way responsible for the Healys entertaining thoughts of opening a restaurant. In 1975, Mr Healy lost his job in the wine business and began working for a restaurant in Navan. He also worked in Slane Castle restaurant for a period.

Prior to this, they had entertained the notion of opening such a business. In a 1982 interview with the Meath Chronicle, Catherine Healy said that when Nick lost his full time job, it was the little something to give them a push in the right direction.

His restaurant job in Navan allowed him to get to know the local business, and they set about identifying and acquiring a suitable premises.

They settled on the Darcy farm, Gaurie House, in Dunderry, which was on the market, and set about converting the muck and rubble from a derelict cow shed into the structure they desired for a top class eatery. The construction project took 18 months, and they opened in November 1977. Their local clientele was complemented by a stream of visitors as their reputation grew, and Nick and Catherine Healy admitted being "obsessed" with their business, spending their holidays checking out other restaurants and markets and supermarkets for food produce.

It wasn't an easy time to open a restaurant in Ireland, simply because there was not a culture of eating out at the time. It was a new thing for people to go out for dinner frequently. The Healys consistently changed the menu, making sure that there was always something different for their customers on each visit.

Both Nicholas and Catherine spent time working in France. Dublin native Mr Healy had spent time in catering in England, France, Germany and South Africa, and had held a position of demi-chef at the celebrated Auberge du Pere Bise, at the time the longest holder of the coveted Michelin three stars in France. His wife originally trained as an occupational therapist but liked cooking so much, she decided to become a full time chef.

Just over two years after opening, Dunderry Lodge was one of just 24 restaurants in the country to receive distinctions in the first Bord Failte Awards of Excellence, in January 1980. The judges remarked on the original features of the building being retained - "the rough stone walls, hessian and rush matting give an overall impression of warmth and simplicity."

The awards were to roll in. The Lodge retained the Bord Failte excellence award over the following years, and by early 1983 had a star in the Egon Ronay guide to restaurants, a 'Mortar and Pestle' in the 1982 Good Food Guide, and a coveted Red M in the Michelin Guide.

The establishment went on to receive further Egon Ronay and Michelin Red stars in the late eighties, reflecting the hard work of the Healys and their staff. It wasn't unusual to see diners like Major McDowell of the Irish Times or singer Paul Brady arriving at Ballardin. They achieved the Red M, a demi or half Michelin Star from 1981-85 and attained the full Michelin Star from 1986-'89, for

four years running, an enormous achievement. However, when Catherine Healy became ill, the decision was taken to sell the restaurant business which they had built up. She passed away in early 1993, aged 44.

A native of Clonskeagh in Dublin, Mr Healy was the second of five children born to William Skeffington Healy, a solicitor and native of Drogheda, and Hope Ferguson, whose father had been the Irish representative to the League of Nations. As a young woman Hope had spent long periods in France and had passed on her love of French cooking to her eldest son. Following his education at St Gerard's in Bray and at Glenstal Abbey, deceased travelled widely, learning the hotel trade along the way.

As a youngster growing up on the south side of Dublin, he became hugely interested in sailing, and began when he was six years old. He had a Shannon One Design which he sailed for years on Lough Derg and Lough Ree. It was to a maritime occupation he returned in his latter years, spending seven years running the marina office at Howth Yacht Club.

Following Mrs Healy's death, deceased took up professional yacht deliveries and crossed most of the world's great oceans. On returning to Howth he sailed for many years, doing Round Irelands, a Fastnet and several D2D races among other things. He skippered Ian Morrison's yacht 'Safari' for three years, and when the boat was sold he worked for a few years with his brother as a law clerk. Deceased took part in a number of trips with John Gore Grimes including one to the Arctic. He was also on the famous Round Iceland trip, which was abandoned off Scotland due to adverse weather and ended up instead as a 'Round Ireland Northabout'.

Mr Healy spent seven very happy years at Howth Golf Club, retiring in May 2009.

He died at St Francis' Hospice, Raheny, on Friday 1st June last, and a secular funeral ceremony took place at the club on Friday last. His ashes will rest with his wife's under a beech tree on the farm in Kells where she was raised.

He is survived by his sisters Sara Wilmot, Bristol, and Jane Cunningham, Kilkenny, and by his brothers Simon, Belfast, and Andrew, Dublin, as well as the Strong family, Kells.

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Marie Cooney, Kells

The death of Mrs Marie Cooney, Rockfield, Kells, at the age of 71, was the source of widespread sadness. She passed away at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, following a short illness, on 20th May last.

Mrs Cooney (nee Tully) was a native of Piercetown, Kells. She was a psychiatric nurse with Louth/Meath Mental Health Services. A keen advocate of mental health awareness, deceased was involved in mental health charity and advocacy, with both Kells Mental Health Association and the Mental Health Association of Ireland.

She is survived by her husband, Tommy; son, Vincent; daughter, Julie Carry; son-in-law, Niall; grandchildren, James, Alan and Niall; brothers, Philly, Paddy and Christy; sisters-in-law, Anna Cooney, Breege and Anne Tully; nieces; nephews; and a large circle of extended family and friends.

The funeral took place from St Colmcille's Church, Kells, to St Colmcille's Cemetery.

A month's memory Mass takes place in Kells on Sunday 15th July at 11am.

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Raphael McKenna, Navan

The regretted death of Mr Raphael McKenna, Woodlands, Navan, and formerly of Grange, Ardbraccan, occurred on 29th February last, peacefully at his residence, aged 51.

Son of the late Michael and Ann McKenna, deceased was a popular and well known figure in the community, and was a very caring person who enjoyed helping his neighbours and friends.

He had a great love of gardening and was blessed with green fingers. Deceased was an enthusiastic volunteer for several years with the Navan Mental Health Association.

Mr McKenna was a lifelong supporter of Leeds United Football Club. He really enjoyed shopping and was a regular visitor to Navan Shopping Centre.

He is survived by his brothers, Laurence, Michael and Noel; sisters-in-law, Louise and Lily; nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews; relatives and friends.

The funeral took place from St Ultan's Church, Bohermeen, to St Mary's Cemetery.

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Anthony Weldon, Navan and Nobber

Nobber and Navan said a sad farewell to Anthony Weldon, who died on 9th May, aged 39. A native of Clusker Park, Navan, deceased was living in Nobber. A devoted partner, father and stepfather, he espoused a life of hard work, hospitality and generosity.

Mr Weldon worked in the bar trade, including in well known establishments such as The Barge, Messr Maguire's and the Q Bar in Dublin, and in the Oasis in Carrickmacross. He was a loyal Meath supporter.

Deceased is survived by his partner, Margaret; son, Henry; stepchildren, Darragh, Shannon and Ryan; and the Eakins family, Kingscourt; family, friends and neighbours.

The funeral took place from St Oliver's Church, Navan, to St Mary's Cemetery, where he was laid to rest with his parents, Tony and Imelda.

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Ellen McHugh, Oldcastle

There was great sadness following the passing of Mrs Ellen McHugh, Ballinavalley, Oldcastle, at her residence, aged 94 years, on 12th May last.

Deceased was a member of the Scanlon family of Dowra, Co Cavan, and was predeceased by her husband, Michael.

She is survived by her family, Michael, Philip, Rosaleen, Anne, Tommy, Dolores and Gabrielle; daughters-in-law, Eileen, Martina and Margaret; son-in-law, Terry; grandchildren; great-grandchildren, relatives and friends. The funeral took place from St Brigid's Church, Oldcastle, to the local cemetery.

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Maureen Breslin, Dunboyne

The regretted death occurred on 20th May last of Ms Maureen Breslin, Dunboyne at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, aged 68 years.

Daughter of the late Patrick and Margaret Breslin, she was a native of Buncrana, Co Donegal.

She is survived by her sister, Nuala, Dunboyne; and brothers, Kevin, Phibsboro, Pearse, Killeigh, Co Offaly, and Aidan, Ratoath.

The funeral took place from the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Dunboyne, to Rooske Cemetery, Dunboyne.

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John O'Neill, Navan

The death has occurred of Mr John O'Neill, St Martin's Apartments, Navan, and formerly of Ladyrath, Wilkinstown. Deceased worked in Meath County Council and also spent some time in England.

Predeceased by his parents, Bridget and Frank, he is survived by his sisters, Bridget and Mary; nieces, nephews; relatives and friends.

Mr O'Neill's remains reposed at St Joseph's Chapel of Rest, Old Johnstown, Navan, before removal to St Louis' Church, Rathkenny.

The funeral took place to the adjoining cemetery.

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Elizabeth Hand, Carlanstown

There was widespread sadness following the passing of Mrs Elizabeth (Betty) Hand, Normanstown, Carlanstown, Kells, aged 86, on 24th May last. Deceased was a native of Carlanstown and a daughter of the late John and Sarah Gaffney.

She was predeceased by her husband, John Hand, in January 1973.

She is survived by her daughter, Marie Weldon, Rahood, Nobber; sons, John, Drumcondra, Dublin; Patrick, Normanstown; David, White Gables, Blackwater Heights, Kells; and Des, Leitrim, Mullagh, Kells; daughters-in-law, son-in-law, sisters-in-law, grandchildren, relatives and friends.

Mrs Hand died at Beaufort House Nursing Home, Navan. The funeral took place from Mullaghea Church to St Colmcille's Cemetery, Kells.

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