Larne woman an ‘inspirational’ tutor to nurses

Peggy O'Neill.
Peggy O'Neill.

Margaret Theresa (Peggy) O’Neill, who passed away on November 10, devoted her life to a career in nursing, much of it spent at the Moyle Hospital in Larne.

Born in the town on June 23, 1922, she was daughter of David and Teresa O’Neill and one of a family of six, only three of whom sadly grew to adulthood.

The young Margaret O’Neill decided to embark on a career in nursing and went to Farnborough Hospital in Kent to commence her training. She qualified there as an SRN nurse and worked as a Staff Nurse in England before returning home in 1958 to help look after her ailing father.

After he passed away, Peggy got a Staff Nurse post in the Moyle Hospital, becoming a Ward Sister there in 1965. Her great love for nursing led to her interest in training other young nurses embarking on their careers and she trained as a nurse tutor, enjoying this highly responsible role until her retirement in 1982.

She was highly loved and respected by all the nurses who trained under her and is remembered with great affection, as evidenced by many comments on the Memories of Larne social media site following news of her death.

One comment was: “So sorry to hear this. Great tutor for me, 1985-87.” Another said: “We, your nurses, owe you so much. You taught us well, and thanks to your dedication our patients have benefited also.”

A comment from one of her trainees, now living in Edinburgh, was: “A very inspirational person and a good friend to many that knew her.”

Another said: “So sad. Was one of the best nursing tutors that every one of us nurses could have ever had. She trained us so well. Will never forget her. She gave me the best grounding in nursing that I could ever have had.”

Another comment was that Peggy O’Neill was “a proper lady and a thorough and fantastic tutor nurse”.

Aside from her working career, she loved music and played the piano, holding a Grade 6 in music. She loved to bake and sew, and had a great love of animals, always having a dog and a cat. She was also a supporter of many animal charities.

Deeply interested in local history, one of her great enjoyments was walking the Antrim Coast Road.

A woman with a great interest in and knowledge of astrology, she also loved to read Latin and was deeply involved in the Apostolic work of St. MacNissi’s congregation in Larne, the history of which her late brother David set to book some years ago.

Peggy lived at the Roddens in Larne for many years but in July 2013 moved into Larne Care Centre, where she was wonderfully looked after by the staff until she peacefully passed away on November 10.

Her funeral took place on Wednesday, November 13, with Requiem Mass being held at St. MacNissi’s Church, Agnew Street in Larne, with interment at Ballygowan Cemetery outside Larne.

Donations in lieu of flowers were encouraged to Alzheimers Society, N.I, Unit 4, Balmoral Business Park, Boucher Crescent, Belfast, BT12 6HU.

Miss O’Neill was predeceased by her brothers David and Maurice and is survived by nieces, nephews, sister-in-law and family circle.