Eileen Carr — A century of Galway life

Last week saw the passing of one of the city’s oldest residents. From more than 100 years of life the world she was born into and the world she left were very different. At the great age of 101 Eileen Carr passed away. She enjoyed good health up to recent weeks, with poor hearing as her major complaint. She found the resulting social isolation rather frustrating yet she missed very little.

Eileen was a very religious and spiritual woman, she was convinced that she was destined for God. She believed that death was a bridge over which all must cross on the way to God. She often wondered aloud why it was taking her so long to reach that bridge.

Born Eileen Flynn near Ballintubber Abbey on April 5, 1908, it is difficult to comprehend the enormous span she has lived. The month she was born the fourth Olympic Games of modern times opened in London. RTE Radio One was not launched until she was 18, and RTE television did not start until she was 53, so it is safe to say that her upbringing was quite distant from that of today’s youth.

At the age of 20 Eileen moved from Ballintubber to Galway. She landed her first job in a a pub in Woodquay, then owned by a family called Cosgrove. McSwiggan’s now stands on that spot today. She started a relationship with Roddy Carr whose family owned the paint shop on Cross Street, now Supermac’s. The happy couple married in Dublin in 1933. “We tried to have a quiet wedding but we didn’t succeed,” she once said without disappointment.

Her life revolved around the Augustinian church. Five years ago, when restoration of the church began, she was part of a delegation that went to the bishop seeking permission for the use of St Nicholas’ Protestant church. She had been a neighbour of the bishop when he was a baby, and in subsequent discussions, the bishop was at a certain disadvantage.

Her church life extended into her social life. After 11 o’clock Mass each day, she went to a local restaurant where a place was reserved for her and a small band of friends. Eileen Murphy, Maribel McNeill, Sadie Copeland, Carmel Howard and Maura Moloney met daily to chat and trade news and stories. The same women also met every Sunday afternoon for bridge.

Eileen’s husband Roderick Carr died 45 years ago. Being familiar with loneliness she was a very independent, feisty woman, not given to self-pity or complaining, and enjoyed great health throughout her life. She had a pacemaker inserted five years ago, and cataracts removed from her eyes some time later. She made light of these procedures by remarking that she was held together by strings and patches. The people of Galway will miss her greatly.

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