Winnie cuts the cake with college president, Fr Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh, and facilities manager, Avril Lawler
By Elizabeth Lee
WINNIE Lyons, after feeding generations of priests, staff and students, has finally hung up her chef’s hat after 70 years of being associated with Carlow College.
The Carlow woman finally retired last week, having baked and cooked in the college canteen for seven decades. Winnie will be 85 next birthday and only now is she ready to take it easy!
“She was never ready to leave before this; the college was her life. She loved it here,” explained her daughter Julie Lyons, who is the catering manager in the canteen.
Winnie first started in St Patrick’s College, as it was known back then, when she was just 13 years’ old. She had to leave to raise her two brothers Pat and Paul Kinsella from St Mary’s Park, and later, when she married Michael Lyons, she raised her four children – Michael, Julie, Martina and Mary. She returned to Carlow College in the 1990s and has been there since, cooking and nourishing generations of people.
“Mam would feed a nation from a pot. That’s what she always said: ‘there’s enough in the pot!’ She was famous for her apple tarts here in the college, too. She used the apples from the garden and her own special pastry. She never measured anything, she just knew,” continued Julie proudly.
Winnie loved the college and, in a lovely full circle of life, both of her daughters work there, Julie as catering manager and Mary as a chef. The family are well known in Carlow town and live in New Oak Estate.
Winne has dedicated her life to her family, as well as her charitable pursuits, supporting worthy causes both local and national every year through fundraising efforts.
Her children, eight grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren attended her retirement party in the college, with some of them travelling from Liverpool, Cork and Belfast.
Members of staff and management paid tribute to Winnie, including facilities manager Avril Lawler and college president Fr Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh. Fr Conn thanked Winnie for “her dedication, commitment and length of service as a staff member spanning over 70 years”.
He reminded Winnie’s family and staff members that she joined the staff as a teenager, when Queen Elizabeth II of England was crowned in 1953. He said that Winnie is a much-loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. He added that the presence of so many at her retirement event showed “the esteem, affection and regard that Winnie is held in”. He wished her well in her retirement.
“What an achievement! She’ll be sorely missed by everyone here in the college,” added Avril.