Ena Rice obituary: ‘Beautiful, quiet, gentle’ woman loved spending time with family

Beloved mother and grandmother was known for her warmth and inner strength

Ena Rice. “Up to the last visit that we saw Mam, she’d have her lipstick on, her earrings on,” her daughter Fiona said.

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Ena Rice 1925-2020

Ena Rice, née Geraghty, was born at 73 Eccles Street, Dublin, on Good Friday, April 10th, 1925.

She was, according to her daughter Fiona Rice, a "very proud Dub" whose party piece was The Dublin Saunter, also known as Dublin Can Be Heaven, popularised by Noel Purcell.

Ena Geraghty was educated at Warrenmount School on Clarence Mangan Road, Dublin. She married Noel Rice in 1958. The couple had four children, Declan, Fiona, Áine and Ursula.


In 1991 Noel died at the age of 61 from motor neurone disease, an illness that was not well understood at the time.

“His death was a huge shock to my mam,” says Fiona. “It took her a long time to get over my dad’s death. She missed him terribly. She never got over him, to be honest.”

Ena moved in with Fiona and her family and lived for the next 24 years at the family home on Ardcollum Avenue in Artane.

She got sick in August and spent 10 weeks in Beaumont Hospital.

When her family was unable to care for her health needs, she moved into Nazareth House on the Malahide Road, where she died on April 17th.

All available family members including grandchildren last visited her on her 95th birthday and saw her through the dining-room window of the nursing home, exactly one week before she died.

She was posthumously diagnosed as having died from Covid-19. As a result, her coffin was closed and her family was denied the opportunity to dress her for burial.

Her family was also unable to bury her with her rosary beads, something she would have wanted.

Ena married Noel Rice in 1958.

“Mam was a beautiful, quiet, gentle lady,” says Fiona. “She liked nothing better than spending time with family and invested hugely in us as children, and subsequently in her grandchildren.

“To people on the outside, many have come to us, since Mam’s passing and commented on their relationships and interactions with Mam. She will be remembered for her inner strength, her love of life, her warmth and encouraging smile.”

“Up to the last visit that we saw Mam, she’d have her lipstick on, her earrings on. She used to work in a sewing factory and she always had a great eye for fashion.”

Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, neither Ena's daughter Áine, who is based in Glasgow, and her family, nor her granddaughter Aoife, Fiona's daughter who is based in London, could attend the service.

Just 10 relatives were present for the funeral mass at St Brendan's Church in Coolock and burial afterwards.

“There is something about having a wake. Irish people do grieving so well. To be isolated from your family when you are sharing such a huge loss is really difficult. It just is never how you would imagine your mother’s funeral would be,” says Fiona.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times