17 Maura Keane Hughes, Ardkill

Maura outside what is now University College Hospital, Galway
Brid Moylette
Hughes Family (during Maura's treatment) on the occasion of her daughter's 1st communion
Brid Moylette

Maura was born in Ardkill. I remember her as a shy, timid & fearful girl but such traits were no obstacle to achieving her life’s ambitions. Work was scarce at the time she completed her Leaving Cert. in Convent of Mercy Ballinrobe.

Career Choice

She had made her career choice to be a nurse, & had successfully gained her place in Nursing School at the Regional Hospital, Galway but had to await a date for training commencement.


In the meantime, she took a factory job in the Shannon Industrial Estate. This was a challenge for her – first time missing family & friends, adjusting to work & new living conditions. She was not to be deterred. A short time later she changed her post to Shannon Diamond. Here, her role included sorting & labeling rough diamonds. While enjoying her new post she visited home regularly & met with Patrick Hughes who ultimately became her husband.

Department of Posts & Telegraphs

An opportunity to compete for a post as telephonist with Dept of Posts & Telegraphs arose & having succeeded in entrance exams she was posted for a 6 months training period in Claremorris.  She was happy to move home, as it afforded her a better opportunity to progress her romance with Patrick.

She cycled the 8 miles return to the Post Master’s home near Hollymount where she availed of a drive to & from work. Having completed her training, she luckily was offered a post in Ballinrobe.  She cycled to & from work each day & enjoyed living at home & socializing with Patrick.

Abandon Ambition?

Family presumed she’d abandon her nursing ambition now that she had a permanent post, living at home & in a relationship. Not so with Maura, she happily sacrificed her home comforts to embark on her caring career.

She trained at the Regional Hospital Galway, a difficult regime, an apprenticeship in format. Staff nurses, sisters & matron were ever vigilant & always ready to reprimand. Hygiene measures were strictly carried out mostly by the trainee nurses – not surprising that hospital super bugs were uncommon back then.  Residing in the Nurse’s Home had many limitations, permission had to be sought & with good reason, if students were to be out after 10pm.

On completion of her general & midwifery training, Maura took up a post in Merlin Park Hospital.


In April 1973 she and Patrick were married & went on to start their family. Initially they were living with Patrick’s parents in their thatched cottage on the family farm. They built and moved into their own bungalow in 1977. They went on to have 8 children, 5 sons 3 daughters.


Following the birth of their youngest child, Maura was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had treatment in St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin & had remission for over 3 years. Unfortunately the cancer returned now attacking her brain and bone. She endured the chemotherapy regime with little effect & she passed away after a painful year in January 1989 aged 41 years. RIP.

Legacy to Family and Life

Her legacy to life: Patrick & Maura have 7 surviving children (unfortunately Enda – a Garda, died accidently). They all live in the West of Ireland mostly in the Neale/Cong area. They are active in their community, church, sport, environment & maintaining the traditions of their local area. They have careers in catering, business, construction, agricultural/horticulture, medical, teaching & engineering professions.


“Number of years in not the measure of life”. Maura’s years though short, were well lived. Her interests included music and dancing both céile & old time. I have a wonderful memory of her dancing the brush dance in her kitchen at a celebration following the stations. She was also active in the community, having been a Eucharistic minister up to becoming terminally ill. She frequently visited locals who were ill/recovering & new mothers/babies & brought them the comfort of her nursing & maternal experience.

Hospitality was her trademark, among family, friends & neighbours. She even hosted the French Minister for Agriculture & his entourage who wished to experience a west of Ireland family farm, while they were on their way for a stay in Ashford Castle.

Maura’s nature would suggest that she would shirk challenge, yet she never took the path of least resistance, but faced her many challenges, with endeavour, hope & humour, including the final challenge of cancer & a painful death.

As death approached, she was greatly consoled by the love of her husband & family, the care & attention of the local doctor & the local priest who administered the Sacraments.  Her faith was confirmed by the prayers of the people who prayed for and with her.

Her death was a huge grief for her siblings & extended family but could not be compared with her loss to Patrick and her children, who were then aged between 4 and 14 years.

I nIothlainn Dé go dtugtar sinn



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