Sister Ita was born in Ballinasloe, Galway in 1930. The youngest of four children, three girls and a boy, she obtained her early education at the Mercy Convent, Ballinasloe. She trained in typing, shorthand and book-keeping and worked in the office of Dubarry Shoes in Ballinasloe.
She worked as a secretary before joining the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1949. After a devastating fire in Drogheda in 1952, novices were housed in a hotel in Termonfeckin, a nearby town. Ita’s group was the first to be professed after the fire.
Sister Therese Kilkenny wrote: ‘Ita with her group made their First Profession in Termonfeckin Parish Church because it was very soon after the fire and we were all in temporary accommodation in what is now An Grianan.
At that time it was a hotel owned by the Smith family from County Cavan. It was closed for the winter so they opened it up so we could stay there. The parish priest at the time was much loved and felt so privileged to have such a ceremony in his church. He bought all the flowers for the altar. His curate was Father Domigan, who was also very good to us.’
After profession Sister Ita worked in the hospital x-ray and OPD offices in Drogheda before assignment to Tanzania in 1954. She worked first in Kabanga Hospital for six years and then in Makiungu Hospital for two years. She also spent five years in Masaka, Uganda. During these assignments she served in local MMM leadership.
In 1972 she went to the USA, where she was regional secretary for four years and helped with mission awareness. She returned to Arusha, Tanzania as Regional secretary before assignment to Ireland in 1978, first as MMM assistant secretary general for two years and then as secretary general for six years. After helping in Ireland in hospitality and as bursar, she returned to Tanzania as Regional secretary.
Ita had a further assignment to the USA in 1998 and spent seven years in fund-raising in Chicago.
She returned to Ireland in 2005, initially combining helping to care for her elderly sister, Una, with part-time secretarial help to the Area leader in Dublin. In 2008 she was assigned to Bettystown, where she helped to provide hospitality to other MMMs.
She moved to the Motherhouse in 2012, helping with driving and providing music for the community. Needing further care, she moved to the nursing facility, Áras Mhuire, in March 2015 and died there peacefully on 1 December 2015.
Sister Ita was a very capable and talented woman. She was very musical and had a beautiful singing voice, which she was always ready to use at liturgical and other celebrations. She joined the local choir in whichever parish she was living. She was very interested in photography and produced lovely greeting cards under the title ‘From Ita’s Eye’. She was also a very good cook.
She was a very loving and caring person and had an ability to seek out people in need of a listening ear. While she was gentle and quiet she was quite sociable and endeared herself to many by her friendly disposition.
Her deep personal relationship with God sustained her, particularly during her long and distressing final illness.