The passing of retired secondary school teacher Maura McCullagh, Ballinahow, Ballycahill and Tarmon Drive, Thurles, has occasioned great sadness locally as a lady who made an enormous contribution to so many lives had been taken prematurely.
Maura, nee Small, died peacefully, after an illness borne with great dignity, surrounded by her loving family, in the wonderful care of the Matron and Staff of the Community Hospital of the Assumption, Thurles. And, since word of her passing became known, social media was very busy with many touching tributes being paid to a lady who contributed so generously to so many lives through work in education and in her parish as well.
“Maura may your gentle soul rest in peace...a very kind compassionate lady. My sympathy to all your family,” wrote one contributor on Facebook.
Another said, “So sorry to hear this - she taught me Irish and History. A lovely lovely lady. RIP.”
Again - “ So sad to hear the news. Mrs McCullagh was my Irish teacher in Borrisoleigh ..... a lady.”
“Always such a lady, the best teacher I ever had.”
Predeceased by her loving husband Mattie, sister Eileen (O'Gara) and brother Micháel Small, Maura was a teacher at St Joseph's College, Borrisoleigh for many years, among other posts she held, and was very highly regarded and thought of by staff and students alike - the warmth of the tributes paid by many of her past pupils is testimony to the regard which she enjoyed in their estimation.
Maura passed on the teaching traits to three of her children with sons Denis and Liam, and daughter Eileen teaching locally in Scoil Ailbhe, Thurles Two-Mile-Borris and Holycross national schools also. Her brother, the late Michael Small was also a primary school teacher and very well known in educational and GAA circles.
Maura was also involved in a number of parish groups and her kind, compassionate nature together with her vast experience was a source of much comfort and wisdom to all those who were so fortunate to have benefited from having known and worked with her.
Since her retirement from teaching she remained very active in the community and continued her involvement even during her brief illness - an illness she bore with typical fortitude and dignity.
Hundreds attended Hugh Ryan's Funeral Home, Slievenamon Road, Thurles to pay their final respects prior to Maura returning home to the Church of St Cataldus, Ballycahill at 7.30pm on Tuesday. Requiem Mass was celebrated in the packed Church on Wednesday and Maura was laid to rest afterwards in Ballycahill Cemetery.
The considerable attendance was testimony to the esteem in which Maura, the McCullagh and Small families are held. They came from far and near to offer their support to her heartbroken children Margaret, Denis, Liam, Matt and Eileen, her daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbors and a very large circle of many good friends.
A lady of substance, Maura McCullagh will be deeply missed in Ballycahill and Thurles. And when past pupils of St Joseph's College in Borrisoleigh get together and chat about their school days she will be remembered with great fondness and warmth. Special people make a mark in life, but special teachers leave a mark and Maura McCullaghs mark has been witnessed over the last few days in the kind comments and tributes paid to her.
“I taught with Maura many moons ago in Borrisoleigh. Wonderful Teacher. Beautiful Person,” - another kind tribute to a kind lady.
May she rest gently in the presence of the God she served so well.