Friday, May 30, 2014

Sepia Saturday - A Tribute

O’Connell, Ursula (nee Swift)

photo Ursula O'Connell
Born in Dublin, Ireland
May 28th, 1936 – May 20th, 2014
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Ursula at the C.H.S.L.D. Bussey in Lachine. Beloved wife of 56 years to Jim (Séamus) O’Connell. Dearest mother to her devoted daughter Laura (Paula) and loving son Derek. Also remembered as loving Nanny to her grandchildren Kayleigh Ann and Anaïs. Predeceased by her parents Veronica and Thomas Swift and her sister Angela (Jack McGuinness). Loving sister of Kathleen (Brendan O’Shea) and brother Nicholas (Barbara), her many nieces and nephews here in Canada and the large family of in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews in Ireland. 
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Edmund of Canterbury Catholic Church, 105 Beaconsfield Blvd., Beaconsfield, on Saturday May 31st at 11 a.m., in the presence of her cremated remains. The family will receive condolences from 10:30 -11 a.m. and following the Mass in the church hall where a small reception will be held. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Alzheimer Society in Ursula’s memory would be appreciated. Ursula’s cremated remains will be interred in the Mausoleum of Saint Peter and Paul at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery at a later date. 

This is my tribute to my Aunty Ursula, these are some of my memories of her as I grew up.
She was a kind, unassuming, generous lady.

Always fastidious about her appearance, going to the "beauty parlour" every week. I have a photo of her wrapping her hair on Christmas Eve with toilet paper to keep the style protected.

 At my parents' wedding in 1951 in Dublin, Aunty Ursula on the left, my Mom in the middle and Aunty Nell (Kathleen) on the right. These three sisters were very very close. Mom passed away in 1989.

As the first grandchild on my mother's side, I was spoiled by my aunts. Here I am at the Dublin zoo with Aunty Ursula, my uncle and grandmother.

My sister, Ursula was her namesake and godchild. We always referred to them as big Ursula (all 4'10'' of her) and little Ursula, even when little Ursula was bigger than big Ursula.

The last photo we have of the two Ursulas together.

Aunty Ursula got married in Dublin and little Ursula was only around two years old and was to present the lucky horseshoe to the bride.
However, little Ursula was really too little and shy to do this so here is a photo of me presenting the horseshoe. My dress was a salmon pink made by my Mom.

On the day of the wedding, it is not uncommon among Celtic brides to sow a horseshoe into the hem of a dress. This custom goes far beyond luck. It is part of an ancient belief, perhaps tracing as far back as the iron age.

They didn't have children for a while and moved to Canada. At one point they lived across the street from us in Montreal and every Sunday after Mass everyone would gather at our house for coffee and pastry. 
By then my grandparents had also moved to Canada.

My mother went back to work when we were both in school and one day a week my sister and I would go to Aunty Ursula's for lunch. My absolute favourite was Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs! To this day I will occasionally have to buy a tin to everyone's horror!
When I told my cousin about the spaghetti she was amazed as my aunt was always very health conscious and didn't serve junk food.

Aunty Ursula got me my first job at Richstone's Bakery in Van Horne Shopping Centre. And everyone who grew up in Montreal knew you could never get fresh bread on a Monday!

My BFF fondly remembers my aunt when she visited from Deseronto in the summers. She always thought Aunty Ursula was so glamorous. We lived upstairs and she reminded me a few years ago that when Aunty Ursula left our home she would shout back up the stairs TTFN (ta ta for now) and I now end all my notes to my BFF with TTFN.

Sisters forever! Aunty Ursula in the middle, Mom on the left and Aunty Nell on the right.

My cousin, my Aunty Ursula and me.

TTFN, Aunty Ursula and I hope you and "little" Ursula are getting caught up on all the news!!

Below is the lovely eulogy my cousin delivered at her memorial service.


  1. Nice memories. Sorry for your loss.

  2. What a lovely woman, your Aunty Ursula appears to be throughout all photographs. And whenever the three sisters were together, young or older, you could certainly tell they were sisters! Ursula apparently (from the portrait) had beautiful blue eyes. I'm assuming that is your sister in the 70s pantsuit in the one picture. It really caught my eye because I had one very similar. :)) Ursula, in the white dress trimmed at neck & arms was also right in style with the times. This is a fine tribute to her.

  3. That is a wonderful tribute, thank you for sharing the life of your Aunt with us.

  4. that's the first time I heard of the lucky horseshoe custom for brides.

  5. A beautiful tribute to your aunt. A life well lived. And I loved seeing those little Peter Pan collars. They used to be a favourite of mine..

  6. Condolences on your loss. I hope the memorial has more than a few laughs at the happy times together.

  7. I lost my only aunt and uncle within a few weeks of each other this year. It's been a sad time.

    What a lovely post to her memory.

  8. She was a beauty! Marvelous tribute. I can tell she will be missed.

  9. This must have been a rewarding time for you assembling the photos of your Auntie, and all the memories associated with the photos. The deaths in this older generation of ours does certainly leave a gap in our lives.


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