THE late Valerie Nugent Hayes was a remarkable woman who will be so sadly missed by her heartbroken husband Frank, with whom she shared more than 50 years.
Her absence will also be deeply felt by her children Samantha, Victoria, Byron and Lydia, her grandchildren Sophie and Leila, her brothers, sisters, sister-in-law, her extended family and a wide circle of friends, political comrades and associates.
In an oration to those who gathered recently to celebrate Valerie’s life, Frank said that his wife had a ‘wonderfully wicked sense of humour’.
‘ The best jokes, she always held, contained the truth,’ he said.
The Humanist ceremony at Collier’s in Bray included a personal programme of poems, songs and readings, all significant in some way to Valerie and her memory.
She had asked her beloved family not to grieve for her, but to celebratee the happy life which they had shared, , and ‘ to continue the work she cher- ished most, scattering love, truth, honesty, integrity, which she did so effortlessly, every day of her life, everyy step of her journey.’
Frank said that Valerie’s greatest gift of all was her ability to create a warmf sense of joy in human truth.
‘She worked that quiet magic, not ot just for me, or for our four children en and two grandchildren – all of whomom made her so proud – but for everyone ne and anyone who had the sense to listenen and learn from her, to follow her example. She had grasped early on that the self-infatuated ego was the biggest barrier to human happiness, and she applied that understanding, that Humanist principle, in every aspect of her life.’
She made a happy home in Greystones, she carried out advanced work with Scientific Philosophy to which she made significant contributions. She worked with disadvantaged children, took up and had a gift for story telling. These were just a handful of the many things that made Valerie such a special person.
She learned to play the violin at the age of 60. The instrument was a gift from Frank, a musician. Valerie’s father had played the fiddle, and she had always had a desire to play. She found a wonderful teacher and practiced fastidiously, becoming a beautiful player and putting paid to the idea that it is ever too late to learn to play an instrument.
When Frank and Valerie met, he lived in Ballsbridge and she in Parnell Square. They both went to Blackrock Academy.
‘I thought, and still do think, that she was the most beautiful thing I ever saw,’ said Frank.
He and a friend were both trying to pluck up the courage to ask her out. The friend got the flu one week and, in his absence, Frank found the courage to do it.
‘When I met her that first night, I knew we were going to be soulmates and that was it,’ he said. Frank, a piano player, invited Valerie to come and see his band, and they danced at the interval.
‘We met as children really,’ said Frank. ‘We grew together, and we kind of modified each other. We become what she used to call “a pair of binary opposites”. That came from her particular ethical disposition, her whole conceptual framework of the world.’
The couple lived together in Dublin before they married. ‘It wasn’t controversial for us, but for the day it was. We were a little bit alternative. We thought we knew it all of course, as everybody does at that age.’
They both had an interest in philosophy and ppolitics, and they studied community development. She wasw a scientific philosopher without much time for the mystical philosophy side of things. She was very much a materialist who based her understanding of the world on scientifically verifiable evidence.
She was a member of an international group called the International Friends of Ilyenkov, made up of scholars, researchers and activists reading and exploring the work of oppositional Soviet philosopher E V Ilyenkov to help shed light on today’s cultural, philosophical, educational and political challenges.
Their household was very interesting. ‘Breakfast time was amazing,’ said Valerie’s daughter Samantha, who described a lively and ongoing discourse in a happy and open household.
The children’s friends were always welcome, and had a friendly ear in Valerie. They had love in their house and they all talked to one another. There were rows, of course, but they would be resolved very quickly. As a mum she was just superb.
Always busy, one of Valerie’s roles was as a leader of the Irish Girl Guides. Her daughters were members and they enjoyed a great number of activities and trips together.
Valerie worked in financial control throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, then as her family grew she worked part-time doing the same sort of thing.
She worked from the start in administration with the Living Life Counselling Centre when it was founded, and also worked in Greystones Travel.
After that she went back to community work at Little Bray Family Resource centre, first as her profession and after she retired, as a volunteer.
The Hayes family received a package from the Little Bray Family Resource Centre. All of the children she worked with had made cards, writing in them the thing they remember most about her.
Valerie enriched the lives of everyone she met, and played such a huge part in so many people’s lives.
‘I have been so lucky as a human to find a soul-mate who loved what I loved,’ said Frank.
TheT late Valerie Nugent Hayes anda (left) with Frank three weeksw after their first date.