Eleanor Hynes Kilworth (1933-2020)

The late Eleanor Hynes pictured with her husband Michael and her brother, Canon Michael Harrington P.E.

Former Principal of Kilworth Junior National School Eleanor Hynes (nee Harrington), passed away peacefully at her home in Glenduff Road, Kilworth on Monday of last week (January 6th).

Her passing evoked widespread sympathy in the area and the suddenness of her demise came as a great shock to all those who had the pleasure of knowing her.

Long queues formed outside Ronayne’s Funeral Home, Fermoy on Wednesday for her reposal and Requiem Mass was celebrated on Thursday where Canon Donal Leahy PP was chief celebrant. 

At the funeral Mass, Eleanor’s daughter Annemarie spoke of her mother’s full and rewarding life as a wife and mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and who, as a primary school teacher, taught and mentored generations of schoolchildren in the parish of Araglin and Kilworth.

Having battled with cancer since 2006, her strength and strong will sustained her and AnnMarie said: “Those now left behind, are comforted by a strong belief that as you lie asleep in this church where you went to Mass for the last 65 years, that you are home and that your deep faith in God has been rewarded and realised.

“It’s so fitting that you closed your eyes on the Feast of the Epiphany and on the days around Oiche Nollaig na mBan, because as a woman you were truly inspirational and were a pioneering force in so many ways.”

Gaeltacht origins

Eleanor was born in Coolavokig near Ballyvourney in 1933 and throughout her life she was so proud of everything connected to her childhood, from stories of An tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire to the music of Peader Ó Riada and larla Ó Lionáird, and throughout her life, she held a huge bond with her brother Michael who spoke fondly at the funeral Mass of their young days at home.

Eleanor’s first placement in teaching was to Araglin in 1953 and the following year she transferred to Kilworth as a newly qualified primary teacher. There, ‘Miss Harrington’ had many friends and admirers but when it came to choosing a life partner, it was Michael Hynes who won her heart. They were subsequently married in Gougane Barra in 1964. 

As a couple they were not alone for long, the twins were born in 1966, John in 1968 and Eimear in 1971. Eleanor instilled in her family a love of books and learning, and for herself as a native speaker, the love of the Irish language was so important.

She was very proficient in knitting and needlework – ‘lots of knitting and arran jumpers were produced and us girls wore the dresses that she ran up on the singer sewing machine’.

Locally, Eleanor became an active member of the tennis club, drama society and the PTAA, as well as taking up the job of organist in St Martin’s Church. Over those years, she combined a full time teaching job with being a great support to Michael on the farm in Moorepark where she loved to feed the calves.

“Our house in Kilworth was literally an open house and the kettle was always on, the newspapers were always on the kitchen table and endless cups of tea were the norm, Lyons tea of course,” Ann Marie continued.

Eleanor visited her home place as late as a few short weeks ago when Michael brought her back to Cill na Martra to visit the Harrington family grave.

Ann Marie said that, as a couple, they were ‘utterly devoted and supportive of each other’, adding that on Monday morning less than an hour before she died, her last words were “has Mike had his porridge?” When she didn’t get a satisfactory response, she wanted to know who made it – ‘and then the second lie followed’. 

As a grandmother to David, Nathan, Jack, Jamie, David, Connor, Aoibhinn and Doireann and great-grandmother to Lilly-Anna, she was unique and loved each of them in a special way, and to David and Nathan she became a second mother.

She kept an endless supply of drinking chocolate, mini pizzas, their favourite biscuits and was always there to bring them to swimming, tennis or GAA.


“As a teacher she was innovative, her methods were sometimes novel, best described as ‘experimental learning’, her pupils practised their reading skills by reading the daily newspapers. Pupils read the headlines and as a teacher, she tested their knowledge of the time by asking them to read the television programmes, the sports results tested their knowledge of maths.

“The GAA results was a good indicator of grasping if you could divide by 3 and sort goals from points. Through her, a generation of children learned to love the Irish myths and legends of the Children of Lir, Cu Chulainn as well as Brer Rabbit, James and the Giant Peach and The Tiger who came to Tea.”

Her nature walks were famous as were the trip to Kilworth woods and, as a teacher, she supported her pupils in so many ways. She knew and practiced inclusion and had an understanding of diversity ever before such methods were acknowledged

Concluding, Ann Marie said: “Mom – your spirit will soar over the beloved places of your childhood in Ballyvourney, Clounacarty, Cill na Martra, Dun na Rahhrac and don’t forget us in Kilworth, because you will always be in our hearts and memories. We will love and miss you forever. Slán agus beannacht, ta tú in a choladh agus ná dhuisigh.

Eleanor will be greatly missed by her husband Michael, children Annemarie, Patricia, John and Eimear, her brother Canon Michael Harrington P.E., sons-in-law Pat and Steve, Annemarie’s partner Noel, daughter-in-law Mag, grandchildren David, Nathan, Jack, Jamie, David, Aoibh, Conor and Doireann, great-granddaughter Lilly-Anna, extended family, neighbours and friends.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.