Elizabeth Hickey – The Latter Years

Elizabeth Hickey retired from teaching while still in her late fifties, she “needed time for the many things she had to do”. High on her agenda were The Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, travel, writing and the garden.

In 1990 our mother wrote a wonderful article for the Tara Newsletter looking back over her nearly half century living in Skryne. She describes the bar / grocery shops of Jimmy O’Connell and Tommy Halligan and later Sean Fox’s on top of the Hill. she refers to the 1841 census when there were 41 houses listed in the “town of Skryne”. Mick and Nelly Griffin’s sweet shop, formerly Tony Watters butcher’s shop are remembered as are the wind charger at Skryne Castle and the arrival of the ESB in 1954. She remembers old Skryne families including the Tobins, O’Callaghans, and Mrs Manley at the Post Office. Schoolmaster Brian Smith and Fr. Gerald Cooney and Fr. Fox feature as do the Critcthleys and Farnans and Skryne Court, the old Protestant Rectory where the Talbots lived and later the home of Wearing Willis and his family. She writes about those who lived on the other side of the Hill. The Duignans, Flemings and Mr Jock Wilkinson who was so kind to young people.There is a picture of Paddy Smith “the man with the dancing doll”. The hunt meets at Skryne are remembered and finally the closing of Sean Fox’s grocery shop.

In this final chapter we include extracts from a lovely short biography by two pupils of Skryne National School, Una Begley and Karen Gallagher, called “Elizabeth Hickey – The History Lady of Skryne. They obviously had had a long interview with their subject as they write in great detail about her young days in Scotland, schooling, Trinity, our mother’s writings and publications and finally her advice on how to become a good historian. We include some extracts.

We tell the story of the arrival to Skryne Castle of Prince Michael Of Greece (a cousin of Prince Phillip’s) in May 1990 and their subsequent friendship.We write finally about our mother’s final weeks and death at home in her castle. We refer to her papers and what we did with them and the many lovely tributes paid. We describe how we later spread her ashes on the lake she loved so much at Derrygooney and how, a decade later, we erected a plaque in her memory and in memory of Robin and Peter at the churchyard on top of The Hill of Skryne.

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