Tuesday 22 October 2019

Fun-loving Carol was devoted to her family

The late Carol Roche.
The late Carol Roche.

It's difficult to separate Carol Roche from her role as mother.

Not just because of the impact she left on her three children, Nick, Laura and Paul, but because it was a role she adopted with many of their friends.

A quintessential Irish Mammy, though she was originally from Sidcup, Kent, where she lived with her parents, Betty and Tony, and siblings, Peter, Paul and Mary. She and her family moved to Ballytrent in 1969. In her late teens, she worked in bars and as kitchen staff on the Irish Ferries boat, the 'St Patrick', and subsequently worked at reception in Ferrybank Swimming Pool, where she met her future husband, Michael. This partnership set tongues wagging in the community, due mainly, it's thought, to the vast height difference.

Together, they went on to have four children. First a daughter, Nichola -- who lived less than one month -- and then Nick, Laura and Paul. With Michael working for the Corporation, and as a firefighter, Carol threw herself into raising the family, and together they encouraged their children to explore creative and artistic avenues. Upon any of her kids showing an interest or aptitude for a given subject, Carol would leap to gather any information on the topic, opening up every possibility to their young minds, her enthusiasm making the activity even more attractive to them. The time she put into helping her family explore their interests paid off, with the three of them attaining highly creative jobs in their chosen fields of sound and vision.

Carol who lived in Grattan Terrace in Wexford town played a large role in her children's studies, and after passing three Leaving Certs on their behalf, she was determined to complete her own later in life through a VTOS scheme. Her FETAC qualifications led her to work in the now defunct Centre Of The Unemployed, a job which appealed to her sense of fairness and egalitarianism. Upon the Centre's closure in 2001, Carol began work at the Department of Agriculture in Johnstown Castle, finding great fulfilment in one scheme in particular - the Most Deprived Persons Scheme, also known as Charity Cheese Scheme, where surplus dairy products were allocated to different charities throughout the country. This service became essential in the wake of the financial crash, with growing numbers relying on food parcels to feed their families. Carol believed wholeheartedly in this task and when the scheme was transferred to a different Department in 2013, felt a genuine sense of loss and continued concern for those she had formed bonds with over the phone. Her colleagues in Johnstown still receive phonecalls from former clients, wishing to make contact with Carol again.

Carol worked hard at maintaining a rolling sense of childhood throughout her family's lives. She loved cooking up themed birthday parties - even more-so when her children became adults. Her Mad Hatter's tea party for her 50th birthday came complete with bucking bronco and Sumo-Wrestling suits. For someone so outwardly quiet and private, she buzzed with glee when given a chance to create a costume for a fancy dress fundraiser, or perform in some video message for a family occasion. And after years of encouraging her own children to perform on stage in pantos, musicals or in bands, Carol finally made her own stage debut in Cornmarket Theatre's 'Last Tango In Little Grimley' in 2011, stealing the show with some supreme silliness.

She loved teaming up with her brother and sister for trips abroad but her favourite journeys were about the people, not the places; London to see her son, Paulie; Berlin to visit her daughter, Laura and the well-worn bus route to Dublin, to spend time with her grandchildren, Matilda and Daniel. She was everything a granny - or 'Gragu', as Matilda called her - needed to be: Emergency babysitter the night Daniel was born unexpectedly at home, and fun-filled friend, happy to run herself ragged playing chase and kicking balls; a cosy companion to curl up with for story time.

She spent her life showing people they were loved, not least in the care she gave her mother Betty in her last years, and her own husband Michael as he struggled with cancer. Carol fell ill in the spring of last year, and diagnosed with cancer in July 2015. With the help of her daughter Laura, the Whitfield Centre, Waterford, the staff at Wexford General, her incredible GPs at Sunnyside Medical, her home-care team - in particular Ann, Linda, Frances and Kate - Carol was able to remain at home during her illness, where she died on February 7 2016, in the company of her three children.

The family thank all who helped support them during their loss.

Wexford People