Obituary: Dr Eleanor Rose Comyn-Clarke

I would not have known about this only for a friend Esther gets the Meath Chronicle at a local shop in Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4.  John Donohoe, News Editor, Meath Chronicle, kindly sent me this by email and said that my Mum was known to him since he was a child and that Mum had recently attended his grandmother’s party.  The Meath Chronicle article had a lovely photo of my Mum which does not appear in this.

Saturday January 20, 2018


THE unexpected passing after Christmas of Dr Eleanor Rose Comyn-Clarke, just a few days after she suffered a serious stroke, shocked and saddened the communities of Skryne, Tara, and surrounding areas. Aged 86, Dr Clarke of Rosepark House, Oberstown, Tara, died on 28th December last at the Mater Hospital, five days after taking ill at her home. Her passing came as a shock to all as she was still very active in the community, and had only retired from practice around two years ago.

A member of an old County Clare family, Dr Clarke and her late husband, Dublin native Dr John A Clarke, took over the Tara Dispensary District, based out of the dispensary at Belper, from Dr Jack and Dr Alice Murnane, in 1963. They later built and moved to
Rosepark House. Dr John Clarke died in 1977, and the dispensary area was divided up
between Dr Comyn-Clarke and Dr Paddy Tierney of Dunshaughlin. Dr Clarke operated out of Oberstown, with surgeries in Kilmessan, and Cushinstown, Kilmoon, as well
as providing cover for Dr Tierney in Dunshaughlin. She was also doctor to the Salesian College of Agriculture, Warrenstown.

Born in April 1931, Eleanor Comyn – known to family and friends as Rose – was the younger of two daughters of Judge Michael Comyn and Marcella Blake-Forster, and
grew up on Northbrook Road in Ranelagh, Dublin 6. After schooling in Leeson Street (Sacred Heart), both girls went on to study medicine, and Eleanor graduated from the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland in 1953. She met and married Dr John A Clarke, and they worked in England, Stradbally, Co Laois, Nobber, Co Meath, Loughglynn, Co Roscommon, before coming to and then Tara. Their practice was of the old style dispensary, with house calls, and surgery hours that were more accessible than today’s doctors’ practices.

In the 1980s, Dr Clarke was honoured by Air Canada after she came to the aid of a passenger who took ill on a flight to Toronto.  She enjoyed travelling abroad, and visited Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia and America.  She loved the Hill of Tara and was often to be found with friends walking its roads or having coffee in Maguire’s. She was presented
with an honorary membership certificate by the Friends of Tara.

A member of Rathfeigh and District Historical Society, she had a great interest in both local history and family history. Her own family had a very interesting story, and
its fortunes followed those of the country and state. The Comyns were from Ballyvaughan at the foot of the Burren in Co Clare, and her grandfather, James Comyn, his wife, and seven young children, were evicted from the family farm of many hundred years in 1879, by an absentee landlord.  When their lot improved, one of those seven children, her father Michael, was to become a King’s Counsel, and later a senator and judge. The family was close to Eamon de Valera, who hid out in Beaufield Mews in Stillorgan, home of Michael’s brother, James, during the Civil War, and Michael advised de Valera on many matters in those early years – Republican funds held by the Cosgrave government, Republican funds held in the United States, the formation of the Fianna Fail party, the founding of the Irish Press, and constitutional issues. It was also on the advice of Michael Comyn and Treaty signatory George Gavan Duffy that de Valera, when he came to power in 1932, stopped paying land annuities to Britain, bringing about the famous ‘Economic War, where we were to ‘burn everything British, except their coal’.  Michael’s brother, James, was father of the late Sir James Comyn, Queen’s Counsel, who inherited his aunt Delia’s home, Belvin Hall, Tara, and it was on this part of this farm that the Clarkes built Rosepark House.

Dr Clarke was hugely proud of her Clare roots and was laid to rest in the Comyn family burial plot in the old abbey at Bishop’s Quarter Cemetery, Ballyvaughan, on New
Year’s day.

Her funeral Mass in St Colmcille’s Church, Skryne, was celebrated by Fr Tom O’Mahony, PP, assisted by Fr Paddy Clarke, St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, brother-in-law of the
deceased, Fr Padraig O’Donovan, vice-director, Dalgan Park, and Fr George McCaughey, Salesian Fathers.

Dr Clarke is survived by her daughter, Michelle; son, Shane; grandchildren, Conor, Molly, Gile, Anna and Tom; sister, Dr Marcy McCann, Limerick; extended family, relatives and many dear neighbours and friends.

A month’s memory Mass takes place in Rathfeigh Church on Saturday 27th January at 6pm.

About michelleclarke2015

Life event that changes all: Horse riding accident in Zimbabwe in 1993, a fractured skull et al including bipolar anxiety, chronic fatigue …. co-morbidities (Nietzche 'He who has the reason why can deal with any how' details my health history from 1993 to date). 17th 2017 August operation for breast cancer (no indications just an appointment came from BreastCheck through the Post). Trinity College Dublin Business Economics and Social Studies (but no degree) 1997-2003; UCD 1997/1998 night classes) essays, projects, writings. Trinity Horizon Programme 1997/98 (Centre for Women Studies Trinity College Dublin/St. Patrick's Foundation (Professor McKeon) EU Horizon funded: research study of 15 women (I was one of this group and it became the cornerstone of my journey to now 2017) over 9 mth period diagnosed with depression and their reintegration into society, with special emphasis on work, arts, further education; Notes from time at Trinity Horizon Project 1997/98; Articles written for 2003/2004; St Patricks Foundation monthly lecture notes for a specific period in time; Selection of Poetry including poems written by people I know; Quotations 1998-2017; other writings mainly with theme of social justice under the heading Citizen Journalism Ireland. Letters written to friends about life in Zimbabwe; Family history including Michael Comyn KC, my grandfather, my grandmother's family, the O'Donnellan ffrench Blake-Forsters; Moral wrong: An acrimonious divorce but the real injustice was the Catholic Church granting an annulment – you can read it and make your own judgment, I have mine. Topics I have written about include annual Brain Awareness week, Mashonaland Irish Associataion in Zimbabwe, Suicide (a life sentence to those left behind); Nostalgia: Tara Hill, Co. Meath.
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2 Responses to Obituary: Dr Eleanor Rose Comyn-Clarke

  1. P. J. O Connor says:

    Hi Michelle, I am a cousin of yours. I am P.J. O Connor from Ruan living in Leixlip, Co. Kildare for a long number of years. I was at your Mums reposing in Dunshaughlin, I met Shane and Gile your cousin and other family. My eldest brother Christy rang me as your Auntie Marci rang him about Rose. Marci maintains contact with him. I do hope and pray that your treatment is going well and that you are feeling much better. My sympathies to you on your Mums passing. Wishing you all the best in the future. I do have a son in law from Harare married to my nursing daughter Niamh. God bless you Michelle. Your cousin P. J.


  2. Pingback: Obituary: Dr Eleanor Rose Comyn-Clarke | canisgallicus

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