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Death of 100-year-old Achill woman

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Death of 100-year-old Achill woman


Anton McNulty

THE death took over the weekend of one of Achill’s oldest residents, Elisabeth Sweeney who was in her 101st year.
A native of Germany, Mrs Sweeney of Glendarray, Achill Sound, was born Baroness Elisabeth Von Offenberg on June 1, 1914. She was the daughter of a German aristocratic family and born in Imperial Russia but her family returned to Germany as refugees following the end of World War I. She first arrived in Ireland in 1937, when she went to live with the family of Dr Eduard Hempel, who was the German envoy to Ireland.
In an interview with The Irish Times in 2011, she explained she brought Dr Hempel’s three children to Ireland aboard a transatlantic liner from which they embarked in Galway Bay.
She was aged 23 at the time and spoke no English and was delegated by Frau Hempel to oversee the renovation works being carried out on Gortleitragh, their residence in Dún Laoighaire.
Mrs Sweeney recalled having “great fun and I learned how to speak English the Irish way by chatting to the workmen”. She said she still remembers hearing the phrase ‘cup of tay’ for the first time.
She left the service of the Hempel family in 1943 but remained in Ireland and moved to Achill Island where she married local businessman, Niall Sweeney, who owned a garage located beside the GAA pitch in Polranny.
She remained in Achill all her life and last June she celebrated her 100th birthday with her family, friends and neighbours in the Achill Sound Hotel.
She passed away peacefully at her residence on Friday and reposed at Sweeney’s Funeral Home, Achill Sound on Sunday afternoon, with removal for Mass at the Church of Lady Immaculate, Achill Sound. Her remains were brought to Mount Jerome Crematorium, Dublin on Monday afternoon.
She is predeceased by her husband, Niall and survived by her sons, Klaus, Peter; daughter, Catherine, grandchildren and many friends and neighbours.