Nun, 83, dies after gust blows her over

Sister Mary Carmel Moloney
Sister Mary Carmel Moloney

A NUN who dedicated her life to education and the community has died aged 83, after high winds caused her to fall on the pavement just yards from her convent.

Tributes have poured in for Sister Mary Carmel Moloney, who passed away on Saturday following the accident outside St Mary’s Convent on Bailiffgate, Alnwick, on December 8.

She was caught by a strong gust and blown over, breaking her arm and hip and sustaining a head injury. She was taken to Wansbeck General Hospital, but never regained consciousness.

Known simply as Sister Carmel, she was born in Knockaney, County Limerick, Ireland, and arrived in Alnwick in September 1944, while the country was still experiencing the ravages of the Second World War. After six years of novitiate training, she made her Final Profession as a Sister of Mercy in 1950 and for a small number of years cooked for the religious Community in Alnwick, later transferring to Crook in County Durham. She was known as an excellent cook and enjoyed preparing treats for special occasions.

Deciding she would like to teach, Sister Carmel was given permission to pursue a three-year training course at Fenham Training College, Newcastle.

Her first year as a teacher was at Our Lady’s Convent High School in Alnwick, followed by a spell in Tenby, South Wales.

She then returned to the Convent School, where she taught five and six-year-olds.

Sister Brigid, from the Sisters of Mercy, said: “She was expert at the teaching of reading and numeracy and regularly attended courses to keep upto date in the proficiency of these subjects. The upper school certainly benefited from her expertise in these subjects, revealed in their excellent reading skills and love of books.

“Sister Carmel retired in 1993 when Our Lady’s became St Oswald’s.

“She then did voluntary work at St John’s First School, again helping with reading and numeracy with those who needed extra help. She also visited the elderly in their homes and became a regular visitor to Anchor House at Bailiffgate – work she thoroughly enjoyed.

“As health problems continued to dog her path, she retired from education and did less home visiting. She enjoyed meeting children and friends at St Paul’s every Sunday and was present at daily Mass until the very day of her accident.”

Sister Brigid added: “She loved music and was part of an orchestra composed of the novices in her early days. Her instrument was piano accordion, which she played very well.

“Her death leaves a great void in our little community after 67 years.”

Former Convent School pupil Avril Huntley, from Chillingham, said all those whose lives were touched by Sister Carmel would feel a great sense of loss.

“I was five when Sister Carmel came to my class after doing her teacher training,” said Mrs Huntley, 47. “I clearly remember that first day and from that moment she was an inspiration to me. She was full of enthusiasm and she has had an impact on me right throughout my life.

“When I decided that I wanted to work with children, she helped me along my career path and I would often call in to the Convent to see her. She always wanted to know how I was doing and I know she showed as much interest in the other girls she had taught.

“Before she retired and the Convent School changed to St Oswald’s, my daughter was in her last class, so it was quite a span that she taught. She also taught my son at St John’s First School and even when she retired she continued to help out.

“She did not suffer fools gladly and always expected the highest standards, but it was always in a nurturing, supportive way. She always wanted you to do the best you could.

“I’ll always remember Sister Carmel as a strong Irish woman, a lovely women who cared for everyone she met.”