Limerick native, Sr Alphonsus, who oversees the annual Good Friday Passion play at St Patrick's Church, in Bandon, Co Cork officially retired from teaching in the 1980s.
However, she continued to work as a speech and drama teacher. She has legendary status in Bandon having enriched the lives of hundreds of students and the wider community.
Her close friend Esther Sinnott says that Sr Alphonsus has more energy than people half her age and younger.
"She is a star in the sky. She connects with people and brings them in to her little world. Age doesn't come in to it. I have seen children whose eyes twinkle when they are around her. She has adults who have gone to her for their diplomas and masters in speech and drama. They never lose touch with her. They keep coming back. She is an amazing woman who doesn't give up. She produces the Passion play every year. She would still pick up a typo on a script without having her glasses on!”
Sr Alphonsus taught in Presentation Primary School for girls in Bandon. When she retired she kept up her speech and drama classes and set up a drama room in the convent. Sr Alphonsus has also assisted non verbal children.
Four years ago St Alphonsus received a prestigious papal honour for distinguished service to her community. She was presented with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal from then Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr John Buckley.
Sr Alphonsus currently resides at Bandon Community Hospital.
She wrote a poem about the pandemic which was read by Cllr Gillian Coughlan at a recent meeting of Bandon Kinsale Municipal District.
In her poem titled "The Virus" Sr Alphonsus says that whilst we are "bored and we're stiff and we can't get out" Mother Nature is here to protect us.
[poem]"Each tin seed, each chick in its nest[/poem]
[poem]Her presence is clear[/poem]
[poem] Her magic is all around [/poem]
[poem]Just see the wee daisies [/poem]
[poem]Alive on the ground[/poem]
[poem]The bees buzzing sounds music to hear[/poem]
[poem]As she flies all around In the flower box so near[/poem]
[poem]So way with the virus [/poem]
[poem]Away with our fears.”[/poem]
Esther says that Sr Alphonsus is philosophical about the virus having been alive at a time when the Spanish Flu infected about a third of the world's population.
The nun was a baby during the Spanish flu pandemic. She has received cards and phone calls from well wishers all through the pandemic as well as a letter and medal from President Michael D Higgins and a recorded message from Bishop Fintan Gavin.
Esther says that Sr Alphonsus hopes to meet President Higgins some day as she is a huge admirer of his. "Her dream would be to meet the President. She gets a congratulatory letter every year on her birthday from him. She sent him the poem. She was delighted to do that because she knows he is a lover of the arts. She admires that in him.
The manager (in the hospital) has said that they would hire a bus to go and meet him if he agreed to it!”