'War veteran laid to rest'
Click to enlarge
A volley of shots from the 30th Battalion Stephens Barracks,
Kilkenny, at the interment of Old IRA Veteran, Mrs, Esther
Purcell, Kennedy Street, Carlow, who was laid to rest in
Killeshin cemetery on Saturday last
Photo: Karl Mc Donough
Mrs. Esther Purcell, Kennedy Street, Carlow, who
died at Aut Even Hospital, Kilkenny, on Thursday (October 8) was a
founder member of Fianna Fail and a member of a staunch Carlow
A tricolor made by Mrs.
Purcell during her incarceration in Kilmainham, was placed on
the coffin during her funeral.
- Aged 83, she was formerly Miss Esther Snoddy. She was
imprisoned as a seventeen year-old member of Cumann na mBan in
Kilmainham Jail, having taken the anti-Treaty side in the Civil
- Her term of imprisonment, in 1923, lasted eight months.
Subsequently, Eamon de Valera occupied the same cell in Kilmainham
where Mrs. Purcell had been held. There, he found a thimble
bearing the inscription ‘E. Snoddy’. He afterwards made contact
with Esther and they remained friends until de Valera’s death in
- When de Valera was President, she visited him at Aras an
- Having been a founder member of Fianna Fail in 1926, Mrs.
Purcell remained politically active throughout her life and
was president of the Carlow town branch of the party up to
the time of her death.
- Remains were removed to St. Clare’s Church, Graiguecullen,
on Friday, where they were received by Rev. Sean Kelly, CC.
Burial, with full military honours provided by 30th
Battalion, Stephen’s Barracks, Kilkenny, took place in the family
plot following Mass in St. Clare’s Church celebrated by Rev. Liam
- Members of the Poor Clare community sang the hymns
- A graveside oration was delivered by Mr. Sean
Prendergast, chairman of Carlow town Cumann of Fianna Fail.
He quoted lines from one of Esther’s favourite poems: ‘Tread
softy, for you tread close to the grave of a hero, A soldier of
the legion of the rearguard’.
- Mrs. Purcell, who was pre-deceased by her husband Michael,
five years ago, is survived by her sons John (Brentwood,
London), Pat and Michael (both Kennedy St., Carlow), Edward (John
Sweeney Park), daughters Mrs. Moira McGrath (Killeshin
Road), Mrs. Doris Halloran (New York), Mrs. Margaret McGean
(Carlow), by her - brother Tom (Blackbog Road, Carlow) and by
nephews, nieces, grandchildren, six great- grandchildren, other
relatives and a large circle of friends.
Source: The Nationalist, October 16th 1987
'The Nationalist'. June 26, 1981
'Comrades in Kilmainham meet again'
by Charlie Keegan
Mrs. Marie Gibney-O’Neill,
Dublin & Mrs. Essie Purcell, Kennedy Street, Carlow, at their
first meeting in 58 years
Photo: Willie Dooley
- A signatory of the 1916 Easter Rising ‘Roll of Honour’ decided
recently to make an adjustment to her original signature by including
her maiden name.
- So Mrs. Marie Gibney-O’Neill, of South Circular Road, Dublin who
had signed the Roll of Honour in 1920 went along to the National
- There she met Padraig O’Snodaigh, Curator of the Irish History
Section of the Museum, who is from Carlow.
- Mrs. Gibney-O’Neill asked Mr. O’Snodaigh if he knew Essie Snoddy
from Carlow, saying that they had been imprisoned together in
Kilmainham Jail in 1923.
- Following their release from prison contact was lost between the
two and it was not until a couple of weeks ago that they met again,
after 58 years.
- Essie Snoddy is now Mrs. Essie Purcell, Kennedy St., Carlow. The
couple, each of whom thought the other was dead, met in Reddy’s
Lounge, Tullow St. Carlow.
- Mrs. Purcell’s son, Michael told ‘The Nationalist’ that it had proved difficult to trace Mrs. Gibney-O’Neill following her visit to the museum and it was through
Bunny Carr that contact was re-established with her.
- During the fighting in the GPO Mrs. Gibney-O’Neill worked in the
kitchen helping with the catering for the people inside. She recalled
that she used to prepare a special chicken dish for Joseph Mary
Plunkett, one of the 1916 leaders who was subsequently executed by the
- Another interesting point to emerge
from the conversation between
the women was that Eamon De Valera occupied the cell in Kilmainham
where Mrs. Purcell had been held.
- There he found a thimble bearing the inscription E. Snoddy. He
afterwards made contact with Mrs. Purcell and maintained this contact
throughout his life.
- Indeed when Dc Valera became President, Mrs. Purcell visited him on
several occasions at Aras an Uachtarain.
Source of material: Michael Purcell Feb 2007
Purcell In Memoriam