Gretta was known for her caring nature
MARGARET (Gretta) Lawlor, New Oak Estate, Carlow who passed away recently at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, following a brief illness, was the former Gretta Cogley from St Aidan’s Villas, Enniscorthy.
Gretta is remembered as a greatly loved wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
Gretta Cogley’s life was beautifully chronicled in a eulogy at her Funeral Mass in Carlow’s Cathedral of the Assumption.
Sean told the congregation that Gretta Cogley was born on June 10, 1947 at St Aidan’s Villas, youngest of seven children. The Cogley family was hard-working and religious. It was at home Gretta learned the art of caring at a young age from her parents, Bill and Catherine. He described Catherine Cogley as ‘a special lady’ who not alone cared for her family but on regular occasions cared for many nieces and nephews ‘while new lives were being set up in England.
Sean continued: ‘Like many of her generation, Gretta left school young, at age 13, to start work, leaving Enniscorthy to work in Dublin’s Mater hospital’. This, he said, was an early sign of her courage. She later returned to work in St John’s hospital, Enniscorthy.
She enjoyed a simple lifestyle, cycling to Curracloe beach, dancing locally or attending bingo in Enniscorthy. It was at bingo in Carlow she first saw Michael Lawlor and he soon plucked up the courage to ask her for a date. There followed a five-year courtship and engagement. They formed a very special loving relationship in married life, having tied the knot on July 26, 1969, starting their married life in one room of Murphy’s house in John Street, Carlow, where Gretta made life-long friends with the Murphy and McGrath families.
‘When Gretta made friends they were friends for life – her loyalty was unconditional’ said Sean. Over the next three years Sean, Christopher and David arrived with Michael and Gretta moving to make a new, loving home in New Oak Estate. Neighbours in New Oak became friends.
‘Everything Gretta did in her life was for her family, she never thought about herself. It was always what everyone else needed and who she could help.’ said her son.
Sean said that Christopher’s illness was a test for Gretta’s early motherhood but he had inherited her courage and strength.
He spoke of his mother’s deep faith, stating that her sons were raised with traditional and, some would say, old-fashioned values – honesty, respect for God, respect for elders, hard work and always doing one’s best and if you could not say something nice say nothing at all. Good manners and honesty were the main core values.
When the marriage ban was lifted in 1973, with the support of Granny Katie Lawlor, Gretta returned to work in the County Home and District Hospital, Carlow as her vocation for caring continued.
‘Gretta loved taking care of the patients. People have told me over the years how kind and gentle mammy was with the patients and people would stop me and tell me what a wonderful, beautiful, kind and gentle person she was’, said Sean.
Her friendships in the District Hospital went beyond work, she loved to meet work colleagues away for the workplace for a chat and cup of tea, when her great sense of humour would shine through.
Holidays were times to visit family in Ireland or England and she loved time spent with brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.
In 1988 Gretta fell ill, an illness she fought with courage and dignity. She never complained, her strength was inspirational. Her faith in God never wavered.
Gretta returned to work eight weeks after surgery and within a year a new chapter opened in her life with the arrival of her first grandchild, Craig. She loved caring for the next generation of the family. Craig was soon followed by granddaughters Megan and Sapphire and her joy as a granny continued with the birth of Phoenix.
Her joy continued further with the arrival of great grandchildren Harry and Bailey.
‘Gretta loved birthdays and Christmas and looking for the perfect gift and to see the joy on faces as wrapping paper was opened’, said Sean.
Gretta’s second illness affected her sight but, with husband Michael’s support, she came through that treatment and her sight was restored. Her sense of humour shone through this treatment. Though very tough, the Botox treatment for her eyes was met with many a joke and great laughter as Caroline and Debbie joked about swapping places for the Botox appointments.
Of a charitable disposition Gretta made monthly contributions to St Vincent de Paul, volunteered for the Irish Cancer Society ‘and never passed a collection or a cap on the street.’ She was also a strong supporter of the Irish lifeguard movement (RNLI).
Sean continued: ‘Christopher’s sudden death in January 2015 was a huge shock to us all but only a mother knows the pain of losing a child. Gretta was heartbroken and that sadness never really left her.’
Two months before her death Gretta fell ill again but this time she did not have the time to fight it.
While his mother’s pain is gone ‘ her courage and strength lives on in all of us’, he said.
Sean concluded by saying: ‘ Throughout Gretta’s life there were some common threads: incredible courage and strength; faith in God; love and caring for others. Heaven is a more caring place today.’
Gretta reposed in Carpenter’s Funeral Home, Barrack Street with prayers being led by Fr Ruairi O’Domhnaill, Adm., Carlow. Fr Ruairi celebrated Gretta’s funeral mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption, assisted by Fr John Dunphy, PP, Graiguecullen-Killeshin.
Readings, Prayers of the Faithful and bringing forward of the Offertory gifts were carried out by the various generations of the Lawlor family.
The singing of hymns at Mass was by Josie Kelly with Clare Cashin on keyboard.
Following Mass, Gretta was laid to rest in St Mary’s cemetery, Carlow with Fr O’Domhnaill reciting the final prayers at the graveside.
She is mourned by her husband Michael, sons Sean (Riverside Close, Carlow), David (Dolmen Gardens, Hacketstown Road, Carlow), brothers Jim (Hull, Yorkshire), George (Bedford, England), Michael (Enniscorthy), sister Breda Kehoe ( Waterford), by her four grandchildren, two great grandchildren, her daughters-in-law, brother-in-law Brendan, nephews, nieces, good neighbours and many friends.