The late Noreen Duncan

Noreen Carr was born in Galway 95 years ago. (Her father was a brother of Eileen Carr's late husband, Roddy). She was a true Galwegian, with burial rights in Forthill cemetery. But she forfeited those rights when she permitted an east Galway native to lure her from the comforts of city life. She married Cyril Duncan from Kilconnell, near Ballinasloe in the late 1930s. They had two sons, Brian and Dermot. Noreen was enormously proud of both.

Cyril Duncan died in 1976 and Noreen reconnected with her early life when she returned to her native city in 1986. She became part of the city landscape once again. A diminutive figure, she seemed to be staring at the ground as she rushed around the city. But that downward glance was deceptive: she missed nothing! And, for a woman who always appeared to be in a perpetual hurry, she could talk all day. And she often did! She was endlessly curious and, like most curious people, she was very well informed. She made friends easily and retained them faithfully. Her chats around the city kept her up to speed on local matters, while her regular trips to the library kept her keen mind alert and her horizons broad.

I will always associate Noreen with faithfulness and energetic chat. Both traits often coincided outside the door of the Augustinian at an early hour. At one time it fell to the priest who said the 8.30 Mass to open the Church. This duty slot was known as 'Dawn Patrol'. Some are liable to show up at 7.40 for 8.30 Mass. They expect to find the Church open.

This was not always so. I distinctly remember waking up at ten past eight and realising that it was my turn on 'dawn patrol'. I rushed down as hastily as nature permits at that hour. I was about to pull the bolt on the door when I suddenly realised that there was a mighty conversation going on outside. The topic for discussion was 'Who do you think is on duty'. Then I heard an unmistakable voice say, "It must be Father Lyng. I have yet to see him in time for anything!" The voice of course belonged to Noreen. In fact this opened up a whole new world to me. There is far more to be learned about the parish in those final few minutes before opening than can be gleaned from years of parish visitation!

Noreen saw the funny side of the incident, as only an inveterate talker would. But it neither stopped her talking or attending the 8.30 Mass.

It was sad to see this active, busy woman decline so quickly. The body faded as the mind dimmed. However, in many ways she had lived a blessed 95 years. She had enjoyed great health. She reared a loving family and had made many faithful friends along the road. To paraphrase St. Paul, 'she had fought the good fight, she had run the race, she had kept the faith.' She will be greatly missed by Brian and Dermot and their families.

She will also be missed in the Augustinian. She was almost part of the furniture here. She was an outstanding example of Christian faithfulness. May she rest in peace.