September 1st 1933 – April 29th 2022
Sr. Deirdre Twomey, baptised Eileen Deirdre, was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1933. Her father, Jeremiah Twomey was Irish and although Deirdre’s early education was in Wales and England, the Irish ties were strong and the family eventually moved back to Dublin. Deirdre entered MMM immediately after she finished her secondary education, aged eighteen. As was customary in those early days of MMM, her professional studies were integrated, as far as possible, with her early religious formation and she went almost immediately to study medicine in University College, Dublin, graduating in 1957. She had her intern year in Drogheda and was sent almost immediately to Nigeria.
Most of Deirdre’s life was spent in Afikpo in Nigeria. She arrived there in 1958, a newly-qualified doctor, and was immediately given responsibility as the Medical Officer. Deirdre spent almost forty years of her life in Afikpo, but she also worked for shorter periods in Abakaliki, Ikom and Ibadan.
She was an excellent doctor, tireless and dedicated to the last. Later she upgraded and became a Consultant Obstetrican/Gynacologist thus saving the lives of many women in labour and their babies. She also taught and trained young doctors to continue the work, as well as teaching and consulting in Natural Family Planning throughout the Diocese. She was also involved in the education of General Practitioners. For a short period during the 1980s, Deirdre came back to Ireland to care for her mother who was aging and needed care. She took the time for some spiritual renewal attending night classes in Milltown Park, Dublin and did manage to get relief from within the family to go back to her beloved Nigeria during the summer!
When the hospital in Afikpo was handed back to the Diocese, Sr. Deirdre went to Abakaliki and worked there in Obstetrics and Gynaecology for another eleven years. But she is fondly remembered in Afikpo where a statue was erected to her memory. She finally returned to Ireland in 2011 after fifty-three years of dedication to the women and children of Nigeria.
On her return to Ireland, Deirdre threw herself into ministry once again. She was based in Dublin and there her many talents had great scope. She was an enthusiastic communicator, keeping a daily diary all of her life, corresponding with family, friends and doctors all over the world. She was artistic, making beautiful birthday and feast cards; and always prepared the crib at Christmas. Photography was another feature of her life and she took excellent photos of events over the years. While in Dublin she also contributed to Mission Awareness, frequently speaking in Parishes around the country, telling the people of her experiences in Nigeria and encouraging them to support us.
She only finally came back to the Motherhouse for extra care in 2021.
Deirdre was always a happy, cheerful person. She was devoted to her family and visited them regularly as long as her health allowed.
Her last illness came on suddenly and we were all saddened by her death in Aras Mhuire on April 29th, 2022. She is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Drogheda