Margaret Cullen obituary: nurse and mother with wonderful sense of humour

Lives lost to Covid-19: After stint nursing in Saudi in the 70s she settled in Kildare

Margaret Cullen  her daughter Aideen Cullen

Margaret Cullen her daughter Aideen Cullen


This article is one of a series about people who have died with coronavirus in Ireland and among the diaspora. Read more at If you would like a friend or family member included in the series, please email

Margaret Cullen


Margaret Cullen is remembered as a hardworking nurse and mother with a wonderful sense of humour, who was proud of her west of Ireland roots no matter where she travelled to in Ireland or abroad.

Born on July 29th, 1933 in Charlestown, Co Mayo to Frank and Peggy Doherty, Mary Margaret Doherty was the eldest sister to John, Vinnie and Anne.

In the 1950s she travelled to Kidderminster in Worcestershire, England to train as a nurse, returning to work in Sligo, Galway and Dublin in the late 1950s and 60s. She would make regular trips back to Sligo to visit her family in her little brown Mini.

As a single woman in the 1970s, she and her friend Ida decided to travel to live and nurse in Dhahran in Saudi Arabia. There she met her future husband, Patrick D Cullen. They returned to marry and settle in Ireland, going on to have two children, Patrick M and Aideen, and later three grandchildren, Dylan, Oscar and Patrick.

They made their home in Ryevale Lawns in Leixlip, Co Kildare, where Margaret lived until Pat’s death in June 2019. She moved to a nursing home, and contracted Covid-19 in mid-April.

“We hoped and prayed she would recover. But her underlying conditions and age were against her,” her daughter Aideen says.

“We got little comfort from the video calls; she could hear us and reached her hands out for us to touch, feel or smell me and my brother. We could not be there with her, but it was our only way of saying goodbye.

“The nursing home did the very best in the most challenging time of their profession. Mum looked into the eyes of her carers because that is all she could see, as they needed to protect themselves with masks, gloves and gowns.”

Margaret died in the early hours of April 21st.

Covid-19: Lives Lost