REMEMBERING MRS. ELIZABETH HICKEY
I was never particularly interested in history until Maurice Mulvany, Anthony?s Dad, died. I was?introduced to so many cousins etc. at the funeral that I asked Anthony?s aunt, Alice Lynch, to explain?the maternal and paternal ?family trees? to me. This sparked an interest in Killeen as the Mulvany?family, we discovered, had been tenant farmers since at least the mid-eighteenth century but probably?for much longer. Many of them were, in fact, buried in the old overgrown graveyard beside the?manorial church. Then, of course, I wanted to know who lived in the castle?
A year or two later, meeting Mrs. Hickey for the first time at a function in Fox?s, I mentioned that I?had collected quite a bit of material which I would pass on to anyone interested in putting together a?history of Killeen Castle. She encouraged me to have a go at it myself and to remember not to worry?if it took a good few years to achieve ? that was normal!
Over the years I got lots of advice from her and still have a letter with important points to remember?about publishing. She kindly wrote the ?blurb? for the back of the cover. Naturally, she came to the?launch in April 1991 and insisted on looking after the sale of books. (We had published History of?Killeen Castle and republished ?70 Years Young?, Memories of Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall). I?mentioned her kindness at the launch in Dunsany Castle (as Randal Plunkett had offered us his home?as the venue). Both Mrs. Hickey and Sheila Dunsany received bouquets.
Shortly after, the same year, my friend Vicky von Schmieder and I were at a ?Save the Corncrake??coffee morning in Skryne Castle. (I remember Vicky telling me that Carl stayed in Skryne Castle as a??pg? after purchasing Corbalton.)
The launch of Skryne and the Early Normans in 1994 was a very special evening. Vicky and I were at?Finnstown House and the book is a treasured masterpiece.
In February, 1996, I spent a weekend in Ballyvaughan with Mrs. Hickey, Michelle Clarke and Vicky.
I think Mrs. Hickey was taking Michelle under her wing as she had just returned from South Africa?and separated from her husband. Vicky asked me if I would join them and, as it was a birthday?weekend for me, Anthony told me to go and enjoy! We had a lovely two nights in the knowledgeable?company of Mrs. Hickey and other historians from all over Ireland. One of the days we visited a?church that had been de-roofed and gutted at the time of the reformation and there was a lot of ooh?s?and ahh?s about the ruin ? Mrs. Hickey said quietly to me ?Mary Rose you would know that all the?medieval churches in England are still intact and in use. They just changed the detail on the notice?board outside?! Then in the graveyard she quoted a verse from an old headstone:
I had several excursions to Dublin with Mrs. Hickey. We were at a house in Ely Place which the?Georgian Society had recently restored and also the Genealogy Office and National Library in Kildare?Street. She showed me where the family apartment was on Stephen?s Green.?Over the years we kept in touch and one day my daughter Clodagh and two friends called to the castle?to see Mrs. Hickey. One of her dogs had just had puppies and she instantly christened the three little?bitches in the litter ? Clodagh, Cabrini and Jennifer! They were very flattered.
I called one day in 1997 to the castle with my friend Micheal O?Brien. He asked if he could come the?following summer to paint the castle with the flower garden in the foreground. We rang in 1998 to see?if Micheal could come but Mrs. Hickey said that she hadn?t been able to stake the delphiniums so the?garden was below par. Micheal said that there was one thing a painter could do that a photographer?couldn?t ? he?d stand the delphiniums upright in his painting. He duly did and Eoin, Robin or Peter?bought it. Micheal also painted the avenue with the cyclamens in bloom for Netta.
Having already acquired his first swarm of bees a good years previous from Mrs. Hickey, Anthony?received a telephone call from her in the late Autumn of 1998 to come and get some of the cyclamens?that Mary Rose admired. As he hadn?t appeared promptly she telephoned again to say that time was?running out for her and to come and collect the plants. He hastened over and we have Skryne?cyclamens and night-scented stock as a constant and wonderful reminder of Mrs.Hickey.
I called, having telephoned 046 25155 first, around December 1998 on my way home from work and?we sat chatting at a lovely warm fire. The next time I visited was for her ?wake? and Anthony had a?glass of the good whiskey she had asked to be served!