Sister Leonora was born Mary Nora Quealy in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford in 1936. She completed her early education there and trained as a nurse in Saint Patrick’s Hospital before joining the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1959.
After profession she worked for two years as a staff nurse and ward sister in the hospital in Drogheda. She was then assigned to Rome, where she worked in the Clinica Moscati for two years. She returned to Ireland and trained in children’s nursing in Belfast. Leonora also cared for Mother Mary before her next assignment to Kenya in 1969.
She worked for three years in Mount Elgon Hospital in Kitale. Seeing the need to address the basic causes of health problems, in 1973 she began a primary health care programme in Kitale. She spent nine years as a public health nurse. Sister Leonora was small in stature and during this time she drove a large Land Rover on her duties. She could not be seen behind the wheel and it was thought the vehicle was travelling without a driver!
From 1983 to 1984 Leonora did mission awareness in the USA and Ireland. Her next assignment was to Airmount Maternity Hospital in Waterford. During that time she became aware of another need, that of orphans in Romania. She arranged to go out for six month periods to give these children love and care.
Sister Leonora was one of four MMMs in the emergency response team organized by Trocaire in 1994 during the genocide in Rwanda. On her return to Ireland she worked in Waterford Regional Hospital. She moved to Dublin in 2005.
Leonora had a great heart and overcame anxiety and fear to accomplish a great deal. Because of ill health, in 2009 she moved to Áras Mhuire. There she continued her interest in helping to nurse others. She died in Áras Mhuire on 4 February 2014.