Phyllis Plunkett obituary: Home was a hub for family and friends

Adopted as an infant, Phyllis Plunkett found out late in life that she had a sister

Phyllis Plunkett remained active in her community in the Dublin suburb of Raheny.

Phyllis Plunkett remained active in her community in the Dublin suburb of Raheny.

 

This article is one of a series about people who have died with coronavirus in Ireland and among the diaspora. Read more at irishtimes.com/covid-19-lives-lost. If you would like a friend or family member included in the series, please email liveslost@irishtimes.com

Phyllis Plunkett

1931-2020

For almost all her 88 years Phyllis Behan believed she was an only child. Adopted by John and Mary Behan as an infant in Baldoyle, Co Dublin, she spent her first 22 happy, healthy years there.

Just earlier this year she found out she had a sister, Eileen, herself married in Northern Ireland with three children. Phyllis’s son Gerry recalled how she was “delighted, thrilled” to find out she had a sister.

Phyllis knew she was adopted but never expected she had another sibling. Her children traced Eileen through a genealogical site. She and Eileen, who is 82, had the same mother, who had been brought to Dublin from Northern Ireland where she gave birth to Phyllis in 1931. Two of Phyllis’s sons, Liam and Paul, went to meet Eileen and her family.

But the two sisters never met. A healthy woman living at home in Raheny, last March Phyllis succumbed to Covid-19. She died in Beaumont Hospital on April 1st.

Her happy life was not without sadness. She met Liam Plunkett from Donnycarney in 1953 and, after a whirlwind courtship, they decided to get married and set the date for November 4th. Two weeks beforehand, Phyllis’s mother Mary died. It was a devastating experience for the young bride-to-be. They decided to go ahead with the wedding and lived at Clontarf.

Liam was a waiter in the Shelbourne and Gresham hotels in those early years so life was challenging for the young couple and their growing family, soon to be eight children, seven boys and one girl.

So it was no wonder that on the day they bought their new house at St Anne’s in Raheny she and Liam skipped from the Dublin Corporation office singing the then Ruby Murray hit Softly, Softly. That was September 1955. They lived at number 70 for 65 years, their home and local hub for friends and neighbours.

Phyllis and Liam became active in the residents’ association, the community development group and the credit co-op for the people of St Anne’s which helped with the financial needs of residents.

Phyllis was also involved with the community development ladies’ club and the drama society. Both came together as Cara (Community and Residents Association).

The family grew up, some emigrated, and then Liam died in 1986, leaving a huge void in Phyllis’s life. She began to travel away at weekends with “the girls” and to Spain for a week or two. She began trips to Canada, where she has two sons. In all, she took 22 trips to see them there.

Phyllis Plunkett is survived by her eight children: Brian, Declan, Philip, Janice, Liam, Gerry, John and Paul; by 16 grandchildren; and by nine great grandchildren.

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