It’s a year since Una O’Farrell’s passing on 27 May 2011. A warm, generous and gentle person, Una of Upper Irishtown, Clonmel, devoted her life to teaching and helping people and she is missed by everyone who knew her, not least the many students she taught at her home.
As well as teaching music and English in Upper Irishtown Una also taught Arthurian literature, medieval literature and science fiction at universities in England, including the University of London Royal Holloway College, the University of London Goldsmith’s College, University of London Queen Mary and Westfield College, and New York University in London. She also taught at UCD for two years when she came back to Ireland in 2004.
Una was born in Ipswich, where her parents John and Eileen had moved to find work. But like her parents Una’s heart was in Ireland and she had always wanted to return for good at some stage. This she was able to do in 2004 when she completed her PhD.
The Return of King Arthur in Twentieth Century Fiction, the subject of Una’s PhD, took five years of part-time study at Royal Holloway College and she was able to draw on her determination and perseverance to successfully complete it. Her MPhil was an edition of a 14th century verse chronicle and her MA was in Language and Literature before 1525, both from Kings College, London. Una published her MPhil, The Abridged English Metrical Brut, with Middle English Texts in 2002.
When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2010 Una faced the illness with her characteristic courage and optimism, taking all the tests, treatment and operations in her stride and never complaining. Even when it was finally realised that she wouldn’t get over the illness, she faced the future with such positivity that she inspired everyone around her.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116)
Una O’Farrell’s anniversary mass will be celebrated at 10am on Sunday, 3 June at St Mary’s Church, Irishtown, Clonmel.