‘A won­der­ful Mammy with a pas­sion for cinema’

Ethel Cash­man 1930-2020

The Irish Times - - Obituaries - PATSY McGARRY

Ethel Cash­man loved the com­pany of lively peo­ple and was a great lis­tener. “She had a wry sense of hu­mour, and was well known for her witty asides and acer­bic com­ments. She had a great va­ri­ety of phrases and say­ings from Dublin,” re­calls daugh­ter Michele.

None of which is sur­pris­ing be­cause Ethel was as Dublin as they come. Born Ethel Pur­cell at Finn Street in Stoney­bat­ter, later mov­ing to Ox­man­town Road, she grew up with four sis­ters in a close knit Church of Ire­land com­mu­nity.

Tragedy struck in 1942 when their fa­ther died sud­denly aged 47. They man­aged with the help of Church, fam­ily and friends.

Ethel spent a lot of her child­hood in the Phoenix Park and on the steps of the nearby Manor Cinema, wait­ing for it to open. She adored cinema and had an en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of films, ac­tors and ac­tresses. She was de­lighted when, in 1944, she spot­ted Lau­rence Olivier in Dublin. Later she would at­tend the Cork Film Fes­ti­val. “She loved for­eign and in­de­pen­dent films, and we spent many happy hours in the old Light­house cinema and the Ir­ish Film In­sti­tute,” says Michele.

Ethel met and mar­ried Griff Cash­man in 1955 and, ini­tially, they lived in Manor Place with Griff’s fa­ther Joe, a pho­tog­ra­pher. “She used tell won­der­ful sto­ries about Joe de­vel­op­ing film in his dark room there in the back­yard, with the cat draped around his shoul­ders,” says Michele. The cou­ple had three chil­dren, Robert, Michele and David, and moved to Ar­tane in the early 1960s.

Tragedy struck again when Griff died from kid­ney fail­ure in 1981. He was 52. Ethel fo­cused her en­er­gies on the chil­dren. She also en­joyed gar­den­ing and wildlife pro­grammes with “a se­cret pas­sion for David At­ten­bor­ough, trav­el­ling around the world with him via arm­chair!”

Her last decade was dom­i­nated by de­men­tia. “It was very tough and fright­en­ing for her”. Even­tu­ally she had to go to the Clon­tarf Nurs­ing Home, where “she was fondly known as Ethel the Pe­tal”.

Ethel died on May 5th of Covid-19, two months after her 90th birth­day. She was buried with Griff at Whitestown ceme­tery, Rush, Co Dublin. “We shall re­mem­ber her won­der­ful Sun­day din­ners, her sto­ries of child­hood, her pas­sion for cinema, and be­ing a won­der­ful Mammy to all of us,” says Michèle.

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She also en­joyed gar­den­ing and wildlife pro­grammes with ‘a se­cret pas­sion for David At­ten­bor­ough, trav­el­ling around the world with him via arm­chair!’

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