Lives Lost to Covid-19: Flora Nugent was a bundle of energy and immensely generous

Flora took in students from all over the world and gave them a warm welcome

Flora Nugent


Flora Nugent was a beloved grandmother to nine but never allowed them to call her granny because she didn't want to sound old. A bundle of energy, she was always active, sociable and "pure industrious", says her granddaughter Georgina.

Born on May 25th, 1934, Flora grew up in Mountain West, near Oranmore, Co Galway with her siblings Maureen, Nellie, Tommy, Ann and Sean on her parents’ Michael and Delia Freeney’s farm.

The experience was to stand to her in later years when she ran her own 72-acre farm at Ballymackeogh House in Newport, Co Tipperary where her husband Dick Nugent ran a timber mill.

She met Dick, a civil engineer from Dublin, in 1953 while working in a Limerick hotel.


They were married three years later and moved to Newport, where Dick operated the mill and Flora managed the dairy farm while also keeping hens and growing vegetables which she sold at the country market in Limerick as well as butter which she churned herself.

The couple later moved to Castleconnell and Dick worked for the county council. They then moved to Monaleen, and later to Castletroy.

The couple had four children – Georgina, Gerard, Deirdre and Richard. Richard died in 1992, aged just 32, while Deirdre died in 2013 with breast cancer.

Dick died of a heart attack in 1996 and after his death she took in students at the university, mainly those learning English.

“Flora used to have so many of them – it was a way for her to keep herself afloat after Dick died and it was company as well,” says her granddaughter Georgina, who spent her summers with her.

“My memory of Flora is always with these students and setting the table for her in the morning and lunch and dinner because she’d cook for them.”

"And every Christmas you couldn't move for the amount of Christmas cards she'd be getting from all over the world; it was phenomenal." One of the students, from Saudi Arabia, stayed with Flora for six or seven years, becoming one of the family and later visiting with his own family, staying in touch until the end.

She also had a series of small white dogs – Sheeba, Prince and finally a Maltese rescue dog called Louis

When her granddaughter visited, “we’d always be going places or going to see someone. She loved going to town, going to the Limerick market on Saturdays and she loved haggling and going into the charity shops, rooting around for bargains.”

And she had such stamina for parties. “She’d be the last to leave, even recently when she’d be going to her older sisters’ birthdays they’d be up all night.”

She was also really generous. “If you half hovered over Flora’s rings or admired a necklace she’d try and take it off and give it to you and would nearly be taking the jumper off her back to give to you”.

She also had a series of small white dogs – Sheeba, Prince and finally a Maltese rescue dog called Louis. She called them “her little men”.

Time marched on and it got harder for Flora to keep the students. She had some health issues and so she moved to the Park nursing home in Castletroy, where she lived for five years until her death.

“When she moved to the Park she remained active and outgoing. And such was her generosity that her daughter Georgina “was always having to bring things for Flora to give to her friends and the staff”.

“She loved her perfumes and smellies,” and she liked to dress up too. “She was really elegant and always putting together lovely outfits.”

She dressed up to get her Covid-19 vaccine shot in an outfit she’d worn to the last wedding she attended. Two days afterwards she tested positive for the virus and died on January 30th, aged 86.

Just before the funeral, when the coffin came in her daughter Georgina realised it was the closest she had been allowed to be to Flora in almost a year.

Flora is survived by her daughter Georgina, son Gerard, sisters Maureen and Nelly, brother Tommy and nine grandchildren.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times