The late Meadhbh Chonmhídhe-Piskorska speaking at the launch of 'Meath Towards a History', a compilation of the writings of her mother, Margaret Conway.

Obituaries 12-01-2013

Meadhbh Chonmhídhe-Piskorska, Ballivor and Dublin The burial took place in her native Ballivor on Thursday last of Mrs Meadhbh Conway-Piskorska, the former head of children's and education programmes at Radio Teilifis Éireann. She died peacefully at Our Lady's Hospice, Blackrock, Co Dublin, on New Year's Day, following a short illness. Mrs Piskorska, who was aged 83, was a daughter of the late Thomas Conway, principal of Ballivor National School, and his wife, the historian Margaret Conway, who taught in Coolronan. Deceased had previously worked in the Irish Placenames Commission, Coimisiún na Logainmeacha. In an interview with Andy O'Mahony on RTÉ, she recalled growing up in Ballivor, the 'end of the good land', where the pastures of Meath met the boglands of Coolronan and Westmeath. She remembered lots of Irish words still being used, such as names of fruits. Her childhood home was full of "plenty of company, plenty of laughter and plenty of conversation," she recalled. Her family were of teaching stock - mainly her father's - and her mother's (the Callans) were farming stock. The young Meadhbh attended the local school, and St Louis Convent Boarding School in Monaghan. An early ambition was to be a singer - a 'crooner', she admitted, and she took part in some operas and orchestras at school. But she admitted to being a bit of a rebel, and at the age of 14 or 15, said she found rules ridiculous. "I always spoke out against rules," she said. She went on to University College, Dublin, where she read English, Irish, French and Italian. Living in Dublin in the post war years, she stayed in the Dominican Hall, and had 10 shillings a week pocket money. During those years she got to love the theatre scene in Dublin, attending the Gate and the Gaiety with her sister, but 'not so much the Abbey - we sort of looked down on the Abbey!' Her early working career was teaching French in St Louis Convent in Rathmines, and in Mespil Hall Road. At the encouragement of her father, an avid Gaelic Leaguer, she went to work in the Irish Placenames Commission, which involved 'bookish research' as well as field research during the summer. This involved travelling to areas around the country and taking down the Irish versions of placenames. She worked quite a bit in Kilskyre, and later in Donegal. She spent two years with the Commission, but never felt 100 per cent comfortable there, as she didn't know whether she was working slow or fast enough there. Her future RTÉ colleague, Ciaran MacMathuna, also worked there. "I decided that if I was going to do the whole of Donegal, I'd be 98 by the time I'd finish it - I was young and impatient." She moved onto work with what was then Radio Eireann in its offices in the GPO off Henry Street, where she went in as assistant to the head of the children's department, Seamus Kavanagh. Programmes she worked on included 'Children to the Microphone' and sports reporting for children. Her colleagues included Harry Thuillier. Then, with the establishment of the new television station in 1962, she was involved in the preparations for this in a very exciting time for Irish broadcasting. She was one of a coterie of people who worked out of rented offices in Dublin waiting for the studios at Montrose to be completed, and she became the head of children's programmes in the new station. In a piece for RTE's 25th anniversary publication in 1987, she wrote that there can never be enough homemade children's programmes in the television age. "Before television, the world outside the home, street or village was an hour's or a day's journey away. Television brings the outside world home. To the extent that it affirms culture, a child's self esteem is enhanced and their grasp of reality strengthened. She recalled 'Siopa An Bhreathnaigh' the drama departments's first production to be seen on the RTE screen. It was a tri-lingual serial, in Irish, English and French, scripted by Niall Toibin, about the imeachtai of a family living behind a shop in Dublin. Later, there was 'Let's Draw', with Blaithin Ni Chnaimhin, followed by 'Aithi Lacha', 'Murphy agus a Chairde' and 'Wanderly Wagon', and in later years, 'Bosco', 'Dilin O Deamhas' agus 'An Baile Beag'. For those a little older, 'Fortycoats' and for adolescents, 'Young Line' Anything Goes', 'Off Your Brush' and 'Borderline'. She recalled that schools broadcasts, 'Teilifis Scoile', started in 1964, two years after the main service began. The early service began with physics, chemistry and biology. "Resources were restricted and film crews were few and available for little more than news and the occasional documentary, so that we literally brought the laboratory, and anything else that needed to be shown, into the studio. "What we showed in a simple and direct way were the only modern teaching experiments some schools had the opportunity of seeing. Indeed, some schools introduced science teaching, without a science teacher to begin with, basing the classes on Teilifis Scoile programmes and school texts." She said the first ten years, from 1964-1974, were ones of enormous developments. Drama was introduced with Siobhan McKenna and Hilton Edwards; aerial photography in a geography series; animation in a mathematics series; interviews with authors and poets. Scriptwriters included Pat Baker and Donall Farmer. When she retired in 1994, Meadhbh Chonmhídhe became involved in Age and Opportunity, Parliamint na mBan, and wrote numerous academic writings. Her late mother, Maighréad Uí Chonmhide, was a keen historian and a member of the Meath Vocational Education Committee. She was secretary of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society from 1937 to 1962. She edited the society's journal, 'Ríocht na Midhe' and delivered countless lectures and talks. In 1956, she began a history series which was published in the Meath Chronicle. 'The Parish History of Meath' was followed by a longer series 'Towards a History of Meath'. Meadhbh Chonmhídhe complied two collections of her mother's work for publication. 'Seanchas na Midhe - A Selection of Lectures' was published in 2009, and was launched in Dublin by the then outgoing RTE director-general Cathal Goan, who had also worked in the Placenames Commission and came into RTÉ working with Meadhbh Conway. In 2010, 'Meath - Towards A History' was launched in Navan Library. Meadhbh Conway marred a Polish man Ryszard Piskorska, whom she met while she was working as a lecturer at the Communications Institute, and he was working on the technical side. His family had been displaced by the German occupation of Poland in World War II, and he first came to Dublin visiting his sister who had been allowed study in Trinity College. When his late father died in London, he was buried in Ballivor close to the Conway family plot. Deceased lived at Westbrook Road, Dundrum, Dublin and is survived by her husband, Ryszard; son, Stefan; grandchildren, Joni and Rio; daughter-in-law, Hilary; sisters Aoife Nic Raghnall and Eithne Mac Aoidh; brothers, Loman, Páig, and Ultan; sisters-in-law Carmel and Maggie; brother-in-law Donnacha; nieces, nephews, extended family, and wide circle of friends. She was pre-deceased by her sister, Máire Bruck and brother, Seán. The funeral took place from the Church of the Holy Cross, Dundrum, to Ballivor Cemetery. ________________________________________________________ Kathleen Dunphy, Navan The death has occurred of Mrs Kathleen (Kate) Dunphy (nee Lynskey), late of Parnell Park, Navan, at Beaufort House, Navan, on 28th December last following a long illness. Formerly of Belmullet, Co Mayo and Mayo Road, Gibbstown, she died peacefully surrounded by her family. She is survived by her husband, Francie; family, Tommy, Angela, Robby, Deirdre, Colm; grandchildren; great grandchildren; sister Margaret, Clongill, Navan; brothers, Martin and Andy, Norfolk, England, Sean, Scotstown, Monaghan and Tony, Gibbstown, Navan; daughter-in-law; sons-in-law; nieces, nephews; relatives and friends. Her funeral mass took place on 31st December in St Mary's Church, Navan, followed by burial in St Mary's Cemetery, Navan. A month's memory Mass will be held Sunday 3rd February in St Mary's Church, Navan at 11am. _________________________________________________________ Patsy Halligan, Rathkenny There was widespread sadness on Christmas Eve following the sudden passing of Mr Patsy Halligan, Ladyrath, Castletown, Navan, at the age of 72, at his residence. A native of Knock, Castletown, deceased was a retired dairy farmer who devoted his life to his family. Through the course of his life he was actively involved in the parish and community of Rathkenny. He gave his time freely to a number of local groups like Castletown Accordian Band and Rathkenny Athletic Club and in more recent years, Rathkenny Hall Committee and Rathkenny Revels. He was also a director of Slane Credit Union. Mr Halligan is survived by his wife, Molly; son, Derek; daughters, Linda, Olive, Audrey and Patricia; sister, Sheila; brothers, Michael and Tony; daughter-in-law, Catherine; sons-in-law, Derek, Paul, Stewart and Derek; grandchildren, Caolach, Olwyn, Joe, Aoibheann, Jamie, Maeve, Mollie, Ellen and Ciarán; relatives, neighbours and friends. The funeral mass took place from the Church of St Louis and St Mary, Rathkenny followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery. A month's memory mass will take place on Sunday 27th January at 11.30am in Rathkenny Church. _________________________________________________________ Tom Fitzgerald, Dunsany The death of Mr Tom Fitzgerald, Killeen, Dunsany, after a short illness, was the cause of great sadness. Aged 74, he passed away at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, on 8th December last. A native of Ormond Road, Drumcondra, Dublin, deceased will be remembered as a devoted father and grandfather, with endless patience, care and attention to detail. He spent 30 years as a marine engineer with British Petroleum and B&I lines, allowing him the opportunity to work around the world in places such as Bodo in Norway, Perth in Western Australia and Galveston in Texas. He was a lover of horseracing, rugby and snooker and loved nothing more than to be in the company of family, neighbours or friends. Mr Fitzgerald is survived by his daughter, Catherine Kennedy, Clonmore, Kildalkey; son, Fergal, Killeen; son-in-law, Seamus Kennedy; grandchildren, Chloe and Tiffany Kennedy; brother, Martin FitzGerald, Ormond Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9; wife, Monica FitzGerald, Letterkenny, Co Donegal; relatives, neighbours and friends. The funeral took place from the Church of the Assumption, Dunsany, to the adjoining cemetery. A month's memory will be held in Dunsany on Saturday 12th January at 6pm. _________________________________________________________ Anne Kelly, Navan The death of Mrs Anne Kelly, Woodlands, Navan, on 27th December last, at her home, aged 61, caused considerable sadness. A native of Dublin, she was daughter of the late Nancy and Paddy McKiernan, and is survived by her husband, Ray; daughter, Sarah; sons, David and Keith; sisters, Oona, Teresa and Olga; daughters-in-law, Sarah and Evelyn; and grandchildren. The funeral took place from St Mary's Church, Navan, for to Glasnevin Crematorium. _________________________________________________________ Bridie Clarke, Kiltale The regretted death occurred on 24th December last, after a long illness, of Mrs Bridie Clarke, Kiltale, Dunsany, at St Joseph's Community Care Centre, Trim. Mrs Clarke (nee Connell), was wife of the late Dick Clarke, who died in 1977. She is survived by her family, Joe, Ratoath; Marie, Trim; Betty, Ratoath; Tommy, Dean Hill; Trish, Dunshaughlin; Martin, Kiltale; daughters-in-law; sons-in-law; grandchildren; great grandchildren; relatives and friends. The funeral took place from the Church of the Assumption, Kiltale, to the adjoining cemetery. A month's memory Mass will take place in Kiltale Church on Saturday 26th January at 6.30pm. _________________________________________________________ Ann Halpin, Oldcastle There was widespread sadness at the sudden death of Mrs Ann (Cissy) Halpin, Oldcastle, on 21st December last at Cavan General Hospital. A native of Castlerahan, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, she was predeceased by her husband, Kevin, in 2010; her sister May in September 2012; and previously by her brothers, John, Con and Gerry. She is survived by her son, Brian; daughter, Sheila; son-in-law, Gerry; granddaughter, Siobhan; grandson, Ciaran; nieces and nephews. Her funeral mass took place in St Brigid's Church, Oldcastle on 23rd December and a month's mass Mass will take place in Oldcastle on Sunday 20th January at 11.30am. _________________________________________________________ Mary Reynolds, Moynalty There was widespread sadness following the death on 14th December last of Mrs Mary Reynolds, Carriga, Moynalty, Kells, aged 83, at Cavan Hospital. Deceased was a retired nurse who worked at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan. She was a native of Stonepark, Co Roscommon, and is survived by her husband, John; daughter, Patsy; son, Seamus; grandchildren, Eoin, Paula, Sean, Emma and Sinead, relatives and friends. The funeral took place from the Church of the Assumption, Moynalty, to the local cemetery.