Miss Iona McLeod

Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Miss Iona McLeod

'A tribute to a great lady'

The death occurred, peacefully, at Borris Lodge Nursing Home, on Christmas Day 1998 of Miss Iona McLeod. Retired Carlow Co. Librarian, she was a prominent figure in the social and cultural life of the town. (See appreciation). Among her many interests was that of cherishing our heritage. From l983 onwards, she served as Honorary President of Carlow County Heritage Society. Working with Padraig O Snodaigh, Michael Purcell, the late Prof. T.P. O’Neill and the late Bill Duggan, she was instrumental in reviving the society which was founded in l899 by historian Michael Brophy. Ms. McLeod became a generous benefactor of the society and on many occasions presented it with paintings from her collection.

The late Iona McLeod was County Librarian for almost 40 years. Christmas morning 1998 saw the passing of one of the pillars of Carlow society when former County Librarian Iona McLeod died peacefully at the Borris Lodge Nursing Home. This much loved lady was an outstanding character in the Carlow Community and served as Carlow County Librarian for almost forty years. In 1929, the Public Libraries Act was adopted and the Library Service inaugurated.

Less than a year later Iona was appointed the first County Librarian. Devoted to books and learning, Iona established and maintained a network of libraries in County Wicklow and became a well known figure in the rural villages of the County as a result. She subsequently moved to Carlow where she was a founder member of the County Library Service. Iona also had a keen interest in history and archaeology and was a founder member of the Old Carlow Society. She also was a supporter of the Arts and was involved in Feis Ceatharlach, Eigse and Carlow Heritage.

A lady of distinction and grace she was the step-daughter of the former Minister for Posts, the late P.J. Little, and sister to the late Catriona McLeod who was curator of the National Museum in Dublin. A storyteller, Iona loved to recall her the days when she and her sister Catriona would travel the continent and experience the Bohemian lifestyle. She loved visiting art galleries, museums and collecting works of art. She especially enjoyed telling her friends about her meetings with the Yeats brothers and her adventures in Paris during her school days with her dear friend, Margaret Burke Sheridan. She possessed a rare appreciation of nature and of her surrounding environs. Iona loved all that was beautiful and could see beauty in the most ugly of things.

A tranquil and deep thinking person, her passing has marked the end of an era in Carlow. A gracious lady who embodied the qualities of courtesy, dignity and decorum, she will be sadly missed by all her friends.

A tribute to a great lady

Iona McLeod, former County Librarian and founder of the County Library in Carlow in the 1920s died peacefully on Christmas morning at Borris Lodge nursing home.

This photo was taken in Burrin Street alongside Burren Place. In August 1939 the County Library committee had rented two rooms in Burren Place house for £45 a year. In the horse and cart we see the County Librarian Iona MacLeod on her way to deliver books to Tinryland School in 1940. At that time some of the schools were used as branches for the distribution of books for the County Library. The door on the right leads to the shop of Michael and Denis Kavanagh, they operated a small grocery, confectionery and vegetable shop here.

Photo from "Carlow in old picture postcards Vol 3" by M. Purcell 2000.

Her passing marks the end of an era of gracious living, courtesy, dignity, decorum, which qualities she embodied. A pillar and founder member of the Old Carlow Society, Iona was a patron of the arts, Feis Ceatharlach, Éigse, Carlow Heritage and was a staunch promoter of Christian and cultural values.

A keen historian, archaeologist and community builder, she was conspicuous for her punctual and regular attendance at public meetings and lectures where her searching questions never failed to delve beneath the surface and get to the heart of the matter being discussed.

Step-daughter of the late P. J. Little, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and sister of the late Caitriona, then curator of the National Museum, Iona and her sister loved to spend their holidays travelling on the continent, visiting art galleries and museums and collecting works of art with which they adorned Clonlee House, their home in Sandyford, Co. Dublin.

An interesting raconteur, Iona often entertained us with anecdotes from the past, from her school days in Paris, her holidays with her dear friend Margaret Burke Sheridan, and her meetings with the Yeats brothers. She also had the distinction of having met five presidents of Ireland.

A lover of books and learning, her petite figure was well-known in the rural villages of Co. Wicklow where she established and maintained a network of branch libraries. Iona had a great love of nature and respect for the environment. Her retirement years were spent in Braganza beside her beloved Barrow.

Her deep philosophy of life, her tranquility of spirit, and optimism, her sense of the wonder of God’s creation were shared with those who were privileged to have been her friends and by whom she is sadly missed.

Solas an linbh Íosa dá anam uasal.

Source: Ireland on Line & The Carlow Nationalist

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© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects, IGP TM

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