Health and Fitness

Carmelite with deep connection to Irish Free State

Sister Mary Kevin O’Higgins
Born: June seventh, 1923
Died: March twenty eighth, 2022

Sister Mary Kevin O’Higgins, a member of the contemplative Carmelite Order for 75 years, has died in her 99th 12 months. She was one of many main figures within the Blackrock Carmel on Sweetman’s Avenue for 50 years and following its closure, she moved to the Monastery of St Joseph in Upper Kilmacud Road, Dublin. A formative affect on these round her, she contributed to the on a regular basis working of the Carmelite Community, partaking within the day by day liturgies and bringing her clever kindness and playful character to all her encounters.

Sr Kevin was born Maev O’Higgins, the eldest youngster of Brigid (nee Cole), an English trainer and Kevin O’Higgins, the Cumann na nGaedheal Minister for Justice and External Affairs and main architect of the Irish Free State.

Her start – simply two weeks after the tip of the Irish Civil War – in Government Buildings (now the Department of the Taoiseach), the short-term headquarters of the fledging State and the O’Higgins short-term dwelling, was described as “a symbol of hope, an olive branch, a new beginning”.

Her grandfather, Dr Thomas O’Higgins, had been killed months earlier than her start at his household dwelling in Stradbally, Co Laois by the anti-Treaty IRA as a reprisal for his son, Kevin O’Higgin’s position within the execution of captured republicans in 1922-1923.

Soon after the tip of the Civil War, the household moved to dwell in Booterstown however had additional tragedy visited on them when their toddler son, Finbarr, died of pneumonia inside weeks of his start.

The O’Higgins dwelling in Booterstown, Dunamase was famend for its many distinguished guests from the world of politics, legislation and the humanities. In later life, Sr Kevin usually spoke about assembly many of those eminent figures. She recalled how her mom informed her that “WB [Yeats] perched me on his knee but I was frightened by his beard and I burst into tears, saying ‘I don’t like you’. I spoke similarly to GK Chesterton”.

Tragedy was to go to the O’Higgins household once more when months after the start of her sister, Una, their father was assassinated on his method to Mass in Booterstown Parish Church on July tenth, 1927.

In his homily at Sr Kevin’s funeral, Father Vincent O’Hara spoke of how, when he interviewed Sr Kevin (who took her father’s identify upon changing into a nun) in her 80s, her father’s violent dying was nonetheless etched in her reminiscence though she was solely 4 on the time. “She even remembered the sound of the shots and the anguished cry of her mother, ‘they got him’.”

In 1940 her mom married a pal of her husband’s, Arthur Cox, the founding father of the eponymous legislation agency and the household moved to dwell in his home in Carrig Breac in Howth. “They called him Uncle Arthur. They were devoted to him but he didn’t become a father to them,” explains Iseult O’Malley, Supreme Court decide and niece of Sr Kevin. When her mom died in 1961, Cox studied for the priesthood at Milltown Park and moved to Africa as a missionary till his dying in a deadly automotive crash in 1965.

The O’Higgins ladies, Maev and Una, have been introduced as much as forgive the vengeful murders of their father and grandfather and went on to dedicate their lives to peace and reconciliation. Una O’Higgins O’Malley by means of her work as co-founder of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconcilation, with the Peace People Movement and later the Irish Council for Civil Liberaties, and Maev by dedicating her life to prayer and repair to God when she entered the contemplative Carmelite Order on the age of 23. She made her career of vows in 1947.

As a younger lady, Maev O’Higgins was academically minded and following her education with the Sacred Heart Sisters in Leeson St, Dublin she obtained a first-class honours diploma in politics and economics at University College Dublin. While there, she gained an award for authorized debate on the UCD Law Society. She studied for the bar however didn’t full her remaining exams. “She would have been a good lawyer as she learned effortlessly and had a prodigious memory and a great mind for detail,” says O’Malley.

However, the younger Maev had different plans and at a weekend dinner dance that she organised for her mates within the Gresham Hotel, she knowledgeable them that she wouldn’t be seeing them for a very long time as a result of she was getting into the contemplative Carmelite Community the next Monday.

The sisters in her neighborhood mentioned that she lived “a rich life, full of love for God and people”. She held roles as prioress and bursar throughout her time on the Blackrock Carmel and when it closed in 1997 (the constructing is now dwelling to the Blackrock Hospice) she moved to the monastery of St Joseph in Kilmacud, the place she grew to become a a lot beloved and appreciated member of that neighborhood. She had a terrific love of nature and animals and loved contact with horses, canine and birds within the grounds of St Josephs.

In 2017 she joined different members of the O’Higgins household at a reception within the Department of Justice to mark the ninetieth anniversary of the homicide of her father. Recalling that occasion, Fr O’Hara says, “it was moving to see Sr Kevin look intently at photographs of her family, including her parents’ wedding with best man Rory O’Connor [whose execution order Kevin O’Higgins would later sign] and see her look at photos of the funeral of her father and identify various people and doing so with a serenity and calmness that was mightily impressive”.

Sr Kevin was born Maev O’Higgins, the eldest child of Brigid (nee Cole), an English teacher and Kevin O’Higgins, the Cumann na nGaedheal Minister for Justice and External Affairs and leading architect of the Irish Free State
Sr Kevin was born Maev O’Higgins, the eldest youngster of Brigid (nee Cole), an English trainer and Kevin O’Higgins, the Cumann na nGaedheal Minister for Justice and External Affairs and main architect of the Irish Free State

Due to declining well being, Sr Kevin moved into the Cedar House nursing dwelling in Stillorgan the place she spent the final 5 years of her life. She was buried within the little cemetery on the monastery of St Joseph, not removed from two different nuns in her neighborhood, Sr Mary Teresa Joseph O’Farrell and Sr Mary Angela O’Farrell, each of whom have been aunts of Rory O’Connor.

Sr Kevin O’Higgins is survived by her nephews, Kevin, Eoin, Art, Chris, Finbarr and niece Iseult, grand-nieces and nephews, great-grand nieces and great-grand nephews, cousins and Sisters of her Kilmacud Community and wider Carmelite household. She was pre-deceased by her sister, Una (O’Higgins O’Malley), in 2005 and her brother, Finbarr, who died in infancy.

  • This article has been edited on Monday, April 11th, 2022.


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