Lives Lost to Covid-19: Nancy Vereker was a ‘brave, nurturing, generous soul’

Nancy was married to her husband Paddy for 65 years in a relationship ‘made to last’

Nancy (Anne) Vereker, née Weekes


Anne Weekes, known to all as Nancy, was the only one for Paddy Vereker. "He saw her at a cinema and went over to talk to her, then asked her if he could walk her home and that was it," says their daughter Anna.

A relationship made to last, the couple were together for 65 years, living all their married life in Dominic’s Place in Waterford in the family home where Nancy grew up, where they reared seven children and where there was always a welcome for visitors.

“It used to be a place where people would gather,” according to their granddaughter Aisling. They had a small sitting room “but there would always be people packed into it right up until Covid came.”

Nancy was a “strong, brave, determined, nurturing, generous soul who overcame many challenges in her life,” including breast cancer, her daughter wrote in a tribute.


“You always knew where you stood as Nancy was open and direct.”

“Nanny would always tell you what she thought whether you liked it or not,” her granddaughter recalls fondly. “She was such a kind heart. But at the same time there’d be no mincing her words.”

She suffered with osteoporosis and had a number of “unfortunate falls that resulted in broken bones, yet she never complained but got on with life, as her family meant everything to her,” Anna wrote.

Very house proud, Nancy kept a cosy, clean, fresh home. “She loved to shop for gifts for her children and grandchildren and for nice things to keep the home cosy. She enjoyed a fresh coat of paint to brighten a room.”

She also had a magic touch when it came to food. “None of us could make an Irish stew quite like hers, or any other traditional dish,” her daughter said.

“She was a great cook,” Aisling agrees. “Normally if you’d go into the house you’d always be greeted by the smell of boiling ham or something very traditional.”

Nancy’s own mother died when she was just 11 and she kept house for the rest of her family. When she left school in her early teens she worked as a cleaner in Airmount Hospital near her home, until she had her own family.

A gifted knitter, she use to make dolls for her grandchildren. “She’d follow the patterns from magazines and the dolls were beautiful, I used to love them. They’d have little bonnets, with lovely dresses.”

She also loved to walk around town and visit the shops in the city and chat with people she knew

A music fan, Nancy loved all the oldies including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. She read avidly, enjoying biographies and autobiographies but true crime was her real passion; she was fascinated by people and their personalities.

One of her early favourites was American crime writer Ann Rule who wrote in detail about forensics, ballistics and the criminal mind.

She also loved to walk around town and visit the shops in the city and chat with people she knew.

In latter times, as a painful back condition took its toll, she became increasingly frail and her daughter Louise became her carer.

Nancy slept downstairs in the front room and Paddy would sleep on the couch beside her to keep an eye on her. Heartbroken, he continues to sleep downstairs after her death.

Before Christmas she had a fall which resulted in a broken hip and after treatment she went to a nursing home to convalesce. Her husband got to see her once in full PPE and she was doing well. Their daughter Maria, who works in the home, looked in on her and gave the family daily updates.

Although she would not be home for Christmas, Paddy believed she would as soon as she was strong enough. Then on Christmas Eve the family got the news of a Covid-19 outbreak in the nursing home.

Nancy never came home. In early January she tested positive and died on January 17th aged 87.

Only a few family members could attend her funeral in Ballybricken Church because of the public health restrictions but others, including grandchildren, stood outside.

The funeral procession passed through Dominic’s Place on the way to St Otteran’s cemetery and all the neighbours came out onto the street to offer their farewells to one of their own. “It was really touching,” says Aisling.

Nancy is survived by her husband Paddy, children Anna, Patricia, Michael, Louise, Maria, Andrew and Peter, sisters Peggy and Maria, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times