September 06, 1930 – April 28, 2019
Oula passed away peacefully in the presence of her loving family on Sunday of Divine Mercy, 28 April 2019.
Predeceased by her parents Gerard and May Downes (nee Nagle), her beloved son Patrick, and her loving partner in life and faith, Michael Joseph Maguire. Leaving to mourn, her brothers Mark (Mary) and Gerry Downes; five sons Conor (Carolyn), Mark (Caroline), Michael (Stella), Hugh (Diana) and Brendan (Laura-Lee); grandchildren Colleen (Shane Antle), Meighan (Ryan Sommer), Duncan, Caitlin, Sean, Michael, Niamh, Mary, Deirdre, Clare, Ciara, Maura, Brendan, Colleen, Oula, Sarah and Josie; great grandsons Conor and Joseph Antle; great grand daughters Mackenzie and Madison Fionnuala Sommer; nephew Ciaran Downes, nieces Fionnuala and Catherine Downes; Nagle and McCaughan cousins; and a wide circle of dear friends on 5 continents.
Oula was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1930, the middle child of three. She loved her family dearly, and the Downes home in Clontarf was filled with warmth and enthusiastic conversation. Oula’s love of music and sport were evident from her earliest years. She was a keen athlete, swimming year round off Howth, playing field hockey at Sacred Heart School and volleying tennis balls at every chance. She also rode her bicycle at every opportunity to matinees at the Irish National Opera, and she knew and could sing the libretto to all the great Operas, with a particular fondness for Puccini’s romantic arias.
Oula was inspired to study physiotherapy at Trinity College, having witnessed up close the depredations of polio in Dublin in her youth. It was her passionate call of service to others that brought her to Newfoundland, in response to a polio outbreak, in the early 1950s. She would grow to love Newfoundland and its people fiercely over the years, but always longed for the beauty of Spring in Ireland when the Rock was still under a blanket of snow!
It was at a St. Patrick’s Day Party that Oula met a charming Irish rover with a twinkle in his eye, a Connemara man who had just arrived in from Twillingate. She would joke that, when he asked her to marry him that evening, she laughed and said perhaps she would see him sometime when he was more sober! She made it to Sunday Mass the next morning at St. Patrick’s, where, during the first reading, she found herself in shadow, looked up and the same Connemara man asked if she was going to take up the entire pew! The fix was in, and they were engaged 4 months later under a full moon, on a St. John’s finger pier. From the moment they were wed at Corpus Christi Church the following April, it was impossible to think of Oula or Mick without thinking of the two of them together.
When the family transplanted to St. John’s in 1975 they were embraced by a rich circle of friends, some old and some new, and this beautiful old city became home for the rest of Oula and Mike’s lives.
As her boys grew to men, she was blessed with daughters in law whom she loved as her own, and eventually with sixteen treasured grandchildren, the source of so much pride and happiness to her final breath!
Oula exemplified the celebrated Irish word Fáilte, or Welcome; Her epic love and kindness provided comfort to so many, far and wide. Her love continues to multiply and lives on in her family and friends, and the people she touched with her warm smile, her gentle sense of humour and her unwavering charity toward others.
Visitation will be held at Caul’s Funeral Home, 84 Lemarchant Rd, St. John’s, on Wednesday 1 May from 7 to 9 PM, and on Thursday 2 May from 2 to 4 PM and 7 to 9 PM. Funeral Mass will be held at St. Pius X Church at 9:30 AM, Saturday 4 May. Burial will follow at a later date at Cull’s Harbour, Bonavista Bay. In lieu of Flowers, donations will be graciously accepted in Oula’s memory to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Cull’s Harbour, c/o PO Box 59, 139 J. R. Smallwood Blvd, Gambo, NL, A0G 2E0. Or simply pay it forward to a charity or act of kindness of your own choosing.
The Maguire Family expresses a big thank you to the medical, nursing and care staff at St. Luke’s Home, for your professional and particularly loving and kind care.
This article was written by Larry Dohey