The unexpected passing of Alice Strain of Springfield, Dungarvan and formerly of Ballymacmague occurred on April 5th.
Born on 19th November 1967 to parents Michael and the late Teresa, who predeceased her in 2006, Alice completed her formal education at the Presentation Primary and Secondary schools in Dungarvan. She then pursued further studies at University College Cork where she attained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1989. In her early career as a secondary school teacher she worked in a number of schools around the country including in Dublin and Limerick where she was highly respected, noted for her diligence and interest in the welfare of her students.
It was in 1996 that Alice was appointed a teacher in the Presentation Secondary School in Clonmel and where over many years she gave of her best as a dedicated, inspiring educator and mentor to many, a shining light and good example at all times. A born teacher, Alice’s encouragement helped her students to blossom and grow. Her teaching career was an example of a true vocation; organising awards and preparing debating teams was just a sample of supplementary work that she undertook, always with the best interests of her students in mind. In 2002 Alice travelled to the other side of the globe to spend a year in Japan where she taught English in schools. Her deep interest in education was shown again when in 2009 she successfully undertook a Master of Arts degree in Guidance and Counselling at U.C.C.
She had a wide variety of hobbies including art, photography, creative writing and cinema. An avid reader, she had a great love of the English language. Alice also enjoyed her walks in Clonea and the nearby Colligan Woods where she appreciated the beautiful scenery. A Minister of the Word at St. Mary’s Parish Church, her deep faith permeated every aspect of her life. She regularly did volunteer work, including visits to orphanages in Romania and as part of Operation Smile. She truly followed the Gospel message in word and deed.
In recent years she had met the love of her life, her fiance Pat Crowley, who brought such joy into her life. A wonderful couple, Alice and Pat together were an example of a real lady and gentleman. She regularly visited her home place in Ballymacmague with Pat and in recent months had been busy planning her wedding. A caring aunt to her nieces and nephews, she always offered encouragement and guidance. The passing of this Christian lady has saddened a great many people in West Waterford, South Tipperary and further beyond. As Alice’s sister Mary related in her tribute during the Requiem Mass, Alice “truly was a gentle soul, an angel that touched so many”.
On Saturday evening, 6th April Rosary was recited at The Kiely Funeral Home by Fr. Peter Ahearne P.P. (Powerstown, Clonmel) in the presence of a large gathering of Alice’s family and friends.
The following (Sunday) evening the removal took place from The Kiely Funeral Home to St. Mary’s Parish Church, Dungarvan. Staff from the Presentation Secondary School, Clonmel accompanied Alice on her journey to the Church. Students from Ard Scoil na nDeise formed a guard of honour in tribute at St. Mary’s. Fr. Peter Ahearne P.P. received and blessed Alice’s remains assisted by Fr. Michael Cullinan P.P., Fr. Flor O’ Callaghan O.S.A., Fr. Tim O’ Riordan P.P., Fr. John Harris C.C, Fr. Billy Meehan P.P., Canon William Ryan P.P., Canon Daniel O’ Connor P.E. Beautiful music was played by Dina Walshe, a fitting tribute to Alice. A huge congregation was present, a testimony to the great respect in which she was held by one and all.
On Monday morning Requiem Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Peter Ahearne P.P. assisted by Fr. Michael Cullinan P.P., Fr. Michael Kennedy P.P., Fr. John Harris C.C., Canon William Ryan P.P., Fr. John Harty O.F.M., Fr. Robert Power P.P., Fr. Diarmaid Ryan, Fr. Billy Meehan P.P., Fr. Tim O’ Riordan P.P., Fr. Paul Waldron Adm., Fr. Matt Cooney O.S.A., Fr Flor O’ Callaghan O.S.A. and Fr. Seamus Humphries O.S.A. At the beginning of Mass gifts were brought to the altar by Alice’s friends, symbolising various aspects of her life; Kathleen (a photo album), Fintan and Maureen (camera), Ella (Bible) and Aideen (letter). Eileen Murphy subsequently read a poem beloved by Alice, “May You Always Have an Angel by Your Side” penned by Emilia Larson. The Liturgy of the Word was shared with all present by neighbour Helen Coffey (First Reading) and friend Marian Smith (Second Reading). The Prayers of the Faithful were recited by a number of her family and friends; Ignatius, Ailbhe, Niamh, Eileen, Sadie, Norette and Eimear. Offertory gifts of bread and wine for Consecration were brought to the altar by her sister Stella and nephew Kevin Crotty.
After Communion Alice’s friend Alison recited a poem that she herself had composed in memory of Alice. Alice’s sister Mary, accompanied by Vera and Stella, read a heartfelt and emotional tribute that moved so many in the huge congregation. Hundreds of students from Presentation Secondary School were present along with those from Loreto Secondary School, also in Clonmel. The music of Dina Walshe, Presentation Choir from Clonmel and solo violinist Sarah O’ Gorman made the Mass a true celebration of Alice’s life. The Choir sang the Celtic spiritual “An Irish Blessing” as Alice was brought from the Church to begin her journey to St. Laurence’s Cemetery, Ballinroad.
A huge guard of honour made up of teachers and staff of Presentation Secondary School, which stretched the length of Mary Street, Dungarvan was a final tribute from Alice’s colleagues and students, another reflection of the esteem in which they held her. At the Cemetery a guard of honour of staff and pupils of Garranbane N.S. was present as Alice was laid to rest. Fr. Ahearne P.P. recited graveside prayers assisted by Canon William Ryan P.P. and Fr. Tim O’Riordan P.P. To her fiancé Pat Crowley, father Michael, sisters Stella, Vera and Mary, brothers-in-law, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, other relatives and her very many friends sincere and heartfelt sympathy is extended.
I líonta Dé go gcastar sinn.