In the 2022 Skibbereen & District Historical Society Journal Margaret Murphy has written an account of the extraordinary life of Kate McCarthy (Sr Marie Laurence), a native of Drominidy North, Drimoleague.
Kate McCarthy, the eldest of a family of ten children, was born in Drominidy North, Drimoleague, in 1895. She joined the Order of Franciscans of Calais at their Cork convent in 1913.
During World War I, Mother Laurence nursed hundreds of Allied soldiers and also German soldiers in Béthune in northern France.
Following a period in the US, Mother Laurence returned to Béthune at the outbreak of World War II. She assisted in the escape of countless numbers of Allied forces from Béthune when it became German-occupied territory. In June 1941, Mother Laurence was arrested by the Gestapo. She endured terrible conditions in several prisoner of war camps for several years before subsequently being held prisoner in Ravensbruck concentration camp.
At the end of the war, Mother Lawrence was helped to reach Sweden before eventually returning to the Honan Convent in Cork where she was made Reverend Mother.
The governments of both Britain and France recognised the valiant contribution of the Drimoleague-born nun. A year after the war ended, Mother Lawrence returned to France where she was decorated for her bravery, personally by General de Gaulle. She also received the ‘Black Cat’ emblem from the French underground movement, the Maquis.
Mother Lawrence was further honoured when she received a citation from Sir Winston Churchill, and the Chief of Staff of the Royal Air Force also cited her for her bravery.
Mother Lawrence McCarthy died suddenly on 21 June 1971 and is buried in St Finbarr’s Cemetery, Cork.
The Journal is selling for €12. As well as local shops this year’s Journal, and a selection of back issues, can be purchased online at https://biblio.ie/bookstore/coolim-books-skibbereen/shj/39607814