Friday 6 December 2019

Wexford's Eileen Moran lived a long and interesting life

The late Eileen Moran.
The late Eileen Moran.

WEXFORD lost one of its oldest residents on May 26, when Eileen Moran (nee Lacey) sadly passed away at the age of 98.

Eileen was born in 8 Carrigeen Street in Wexford on January 14, 1918, 11 months before the end of the First World War.

Aged just eight months, she and her mother Mary Lacey (nee Hogan) both contracted Spanish flu. Both survived and Eileen fought and prospered through all through her long and varied life to the very end.

Like many of her generation she had to leave her own country to find work; her eldest Kathy was a nurse who had left her home town of Wexford in 1936. It was while private nursing in London that a private patient told her that one of her friends, a cousin of the Duke of Westminster was looking for a personal companion having been recently widowed, Kathy told her she knew someone who'd be perfect for the job.

Marie Campbell was a Massachusetts-born heiress who had volunteered to become a nurse on the Western Front during the First World War, it was there she met Lord Leigh, they fell in love and were married, he died in May 1938. Eileen arrived in Grosvenor Square in London in August of the same year and within a hour of meeting Marie Campbell she had the job.

Eileen often told her son Terry that it was much more than a job and as time went on Lady Leigh became in some ways like a second mother to her and to Lady Leigh she was a daughter she'd never have.

Eileen spend her 20s in London during the Second World War, her only sister Kathy, aged 28, was killed in the blitz along with Kathy's full term baby on December 27, 1940.

The heiress lived in a house in Grosvenor Square where Eileen lived and worked, next door to a house used by the American forces. The house wasn't big enough and Lady Leigh being a American offered them the reception rooms in her house for some of their offices, leading to Eileen getting the nickname Little Mo after a tennis player of the 1940s Little Mo Connolly, because she used to race up and down the stairs two at at a time.

It was on one such day in the Spring of 1944, that Eileen shot up the stairs just as a man in a uniform was coming down in the opposite direction, nearly running into him, she braked and looked up to see him smiling back at her, saying 'I thought you were going to strike me'. That man in uniform was General Dwight D Eisenhower and Eileen had nearly sent the Supreme Commander of Allied invasion forces flying. He smiled removed his hat and said 'Step aside for the Lady', he and his men did so and she continued up stairs.

Eileen was shown respect in all the jobs she did during her long life. One example was the unveiling of the statue of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Grosvenor Square in April 1948. The statue was unveiled by FDR's Widow Eleanor Roosevelt and Eileen was introduced to Mrs Roosevelt afterwards by Lady Leigh as 'This is my Elieen'. Eleanor Roosevelt replied: 'I've heard so much about you'. These are among the family's most treasured memories.

Eileen went on to work for the Duke of Westminster. On the day she left work, the old Duke personally saw her to the front door and waved her off, giving her use of the Rolls Royce (with a wedding present in the boot) to take her from London to the liner SS Orsova to Australia at Tilbury.

Eileen and the love of her life Jess Moran, late of Tacumshane, were married in Melbourne, Australia on December 22, 1956, while they loved Australia and their children Terry and Ger were born there, it was always their dream to come back to Ireland.

They finally 'Came Home' to live in Wexford town in 1974 and there they were blissfully happy until Jess died in 1997. Eileen was blessed with good health to virtually the very end, her life was her sons, family and her home.

Her Reqiuem Mass took place in the Church of the Assumption Bride Street, followed by burial in St Ibar's Cemetery, Crosstown.

Eileen will be sadly missed by Terry and Ger, her nieces and nephews, great and great, great nieces and nephews, relatives and friends. Her sons said they wanted to thank all those who helped them over the past few weeks. May she rest in peace.

Wexford People