Tributes have been paid following the passing of Sr Nora Smyth, who was part of the very fabric of Armagh and had an association with St Catherine’s College which spanned an incredible 74 years.
A special function was held last spring to celebrate her life and the contribution she made to the school.
Sr Nora – who first came to Armagh in 1948 – had retired to Dublin and to Cedar House at Mount Anville Park in Stillorgan.
Her passing this weekend has brought much sadness to all who knew her and whose lives she touched over many years.
It was in May 2022, that family and friends, colleagues from the wider school community, former and current staff attended a special thanksgiving mass which was celebrated by Father Peter McAnenly and Deacon Eunan McCreesh in the school’s Sacred Heart Chapel.
Sister Nora and guests celebrated her 74-year association with Saint Catherine’s after arriving as a boarding pupil in 1948.
Sister Nora became part of the very heart of the school and her rich heritage was evidenced by the fact that her grandmother, her mother and her sisters also attended Saint Catherine’s.
After entering the Sacred Heart Order, she joined the RSCJ and returned to the school as a teacher for many years.
Sister Nora also worked in Canada and was well-known for her publication on traditional cures, ‘Going for the Cure’.
Her words of wisdom regularly featured on BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Thought for the Day’ segment.
Principal of Saint Catherine’s College, Mrs Noleen Tiffney, commented at the time: “Sister Nora’s 74 year association with our school has been rich and varied.
“Her time in Armagh has been spent in the service of others and not exclusively for our benefit. The wider community has benefited significantly from her presence.
“Irreplaceable, she leaves for Dublin with the affection of those of us who have been privileged to know and work with her.”
Now, less than a year after she departed Armagh, and tributes are being paid following her sad passing.
Petra Carroll, of Petra Carroll Hair at Thomas Street in Armagh, was among the many who knew and held Sr Nora in such great affection.
She paid her own personal tribute, and spoke of learning of the news that Sr Nora had died on Mothering Sunday with a “very heavy heart”.
Said Petra: “She certainly was one of a kind. While others judged she chose to stand out on her own looking out from different eyes for the less privileged and overlooked or just not seen!
“She had a gift to see the light in a young soul and they also saw the same in her, with her off the cuff remarks, her own self-determination to be true to her and to be seen and heard, a quality not always appreciated by others but one I personally loved about her.
“Even though I may not have always agreed with some of her opinions I always respected them. She was my first introduction to a strong self determined woman.
“She loved sharing her stories and life experiences with those who wanted to listen and if you didn’t you had to listen anyway!
“Her first love was God and her second was the people of Armagh, only leaving us to retire in Dublin last May.
“I will hold warm memories of her, first as the woman she was behind the veil and then of her role as a Nun of the Sacred Heart. Rest in Peace sister Nora. I will miss you for sure.”