SUNRISE August 26th 1939 / SUNSET May 9th 2020
Ellen (a/k/a Eileen) Teresa Murphy saw her last sunrise at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Wayne New Jersey on May 9th 2020. She passed peacefully under the exceptional care and devotion of an empathetic, medically skilled team.
Ironically, May was her favorite month of the year. As a Catholic, devoted to Mary, mother of Jesus, she knew all days in May are dedicated to Mary, and Christ’s ascension into heaven is celebrated in May as well. Ellen’s mother, Mary Ann O’Donnell, and her brother, William (Billy) were also born in May.
Delivered by homebirth in Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland, she had a great love for all animals, especially horses. She had a horse named Lily, which she rode barebacked daily on the farm. Her early years were spent on this sheep farm, helping her Aunt Bridie (Bridget Bradley), in this rugged north western part of Ireland. The small family farm, her grandparent’s home, lay in Magheran situated under the partial shade of Mount Gregory.
On November 16,1956, just sixteen, accompanied by her beloved Aunt Bridie, she left for America, the great land of opportunity that held special dreams for so many. Tickets were purchased for them from The Cunard line by Bridie’s two older sisters, who already lived in New York City. The journey would be a seven-day passage across the Atlantic Ocean to America, leaving from Liverpool with a last stop in Cobh Harbor.
Fully aware that this was a chance for a new beginning for both of them, and even though they were a little scared, Ellen recalls great excitement at this opportunity. She was wearing a new woolen coat and a lovely red felt hat purchased especially for the trip. After photographs, they drove to the south of Ireland in a black cab with other immigrating locals, splitting the cost of the fare. Arriving in County Cork, there was a short train ride to Cobh Harbor, completing the 281 mile journey to the famous town, known widely and remembered mostly as the last port of call for THE TITANIC on its maiden voyage. “… and sher’ we all know what happened with that one don’t we?” Can you hear Ellen saying it? I can!
They rowed on a tender and boarded the Motor Vessel “BRITANNIC” with Captain Andrew MacKeller at the helm. Ellen spoke of the harsh ropes on her hands while climbing aboard, and how Aunt Bridie followed up after her, gaining courage from the sight of it. The last thing Ellen saw was Cobh Cathedral high up on the hill. She felt in her heart that she would truly never see Ireland again, and she blessed herself. Their seven-day journey across the Atlantic started off well, with Ellen recalling happily that she watched The Seven Year Itch, starring the beautiful Marylin Monroe. After the film, Ellen became seasick for the rest of trip, unable to eat at all. She may have been attended to by the ship’s surgeon, B. Lake, L.R.C.P., L.R.C.S., D.D.H., who was in charge of the good health of all the passengers on board the twin motor vessel with a maximum tonnage of 27,666.
A week later, they docked at Pier 86 on 46th Street, New York City. Ellen was astonished when she noticed the size of the cars on the streets, where two beaming aunties, Sarah and Nellie, awaited their arrival and ushered them into a new life in America.
First on the list was to find a job to payback their aunts for the ticket fare. Ellen never regretted coming, and never lost her love for America, especially New York City.
For a short time, Ellen worked the counter at the Carnegie Deli, leaving only to pursue a potential career as a telephone operator (that didn’t go well). Unsatisfied, she tried her hand at waitressing, and stayed. It was a job she loved. She was well suited for it, with her massive, bubbly personality and her great love of people. She spent many years as an employee for the Stouffers Company Restaurants and left shortly before her first child, Michael Joseph, was born.
Ellen had married in 1963 and started her own family. In 1976 she resettled in Kilcully County Cork, Ireland and stayed for over a decade raising her children. In 1990 she returned to her beloved City of New York where she lived and worked in childcare for the rest of her life until retirement. She was a parishioner of The Church of the BIessed Sacrament on West 71st Street, which she attended regularly with her best friend, Noreen, from the East Side. The Parish, established in 1887, was the pinnacle of her life and she was a devoted member of the Rosary Society. In recent years, she moved to Hawthorne, New Jersey to be close to her daughter, Pamela, and then to the kind care of the staff at Preakness Health Care facility in Wayne, New Jersey. She had made many friends among residents and staff creating a sense of community and friendship in her final year in the Garden State. She also developed a special bond with her wonderful new friend, Corinne Schiavo, a Jersey Girl. Ellen will be sadly missed by them all.
Ellen fell victim to the Coronavirus. Despite the best efforts of the medical team in St. Joseph’s Hospital, and after being placed in the tender hands of the hospice care team, she bravely succumbed to the illness.
Ellen is predeceased by her mother, Mary Ann O’Donnell; her father, Charles O’Donnell; her sister, Mary Faherty; her brothers, John and Harry of Australia, Frank of England, Thomas of Donegal, and her Aunt Bridie. Ellen is sadly missed by her children, Michael, Stephen, and Pamela, and their families; her former husband, Stephen; her brothers, William (“Billy”) of Nevada; Charles (“Foncy”) of New York; and Hugh of Letterkenny, as well as grandchildren, in-laws, nephews, nieces, cousins, relatives, and many friends. The family would like to extend sincere thanks and best wishes to all the health care and ancillary staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital for the exceptional kindness, care, and attention shown to Ellen in her final days.
Ellen was an exceptional lady, and her caregivers, one and all, gave exceptional care to her. Michael, Stephen, and Pamela are forever indebted to them, especially to the hospice care nurses, Teresa and Jean, for their steadfast and personal care during the most dreadful pandemic of our time. The Garden State became her home for a wee while, but she was a New Yorker through and through, and now that is forever set in stone. She will be swept across the bridge to St. Raymond’s in the Bronx to be reunited with her mother, as was her final last request.
MAY ELLEN REST IN PEACE IN THE VALLEY OF LOVE AND DELIGHT.
[LOVED ONES ARE ALREADY THERE WAITING FOR HER]
Mass will be held for Ellen’s intentions in Mayo, Cork; New York City; Hawthorne, New Jersey; and Brooklyn, New York. The Black Pool prayer group dedicated Holy Hour for her as well.
Due to official restrictions regarding the recent pandemic, and to combat the spread of Coronavirus, and the wishes of her children, a private burial will be held at St. Raymond’s Cemetery in the Bronx. A memorial service of some kind will be held at a later date to celebrate her life. You can offer your condolences to the family in the condolence book below. In lieu of gifts or flowers, please consider donating to any of the organizations listed below, especially Feed Cork.com, an organization very close to Ellen’s daughter’s heart.
Meals on Wheels America.org
No Kid Hungry
Food Bank NYC.org
American Obituary written by Pamela Murphy, R.N.
Edited beautifully by Pamela’s dear friend, Rosemary Cicchetti