Nancy Walker pictured with lay reader John Hillis at a recent event to mark her retirement
Nancy Walker started piano lessons at the age of six years in her National School in Fethard. She wasn’t too happy about having to give up half an hour of her precious lunch break twice a week to do these classes.
When the monthly bill of 7 shillings and 6 pence arrived to her house with a note to her father Edward Bassett, pointing out that Nancy wasn’t always attending, he got quite upset and offered to drive her himself by pony and trap the five miles to the lessons.
This all paid dividends when Nancy passed all her music exams, and was taken under the wing of Marie Colclough who encouraged her to play the organ at Tintern Abbey.
She played her first Harvest Service at the tender age of 13 years. Unfortunately, her father died just before that and never got to ear her play that organ service.
Nancy went on to play in 30 different churches all over Ireland, but mostly in Co. Kildare, Wexford and Dublin.
She admits to being quite nervous on big occasions, one being at Blarney Castle at a wedding where the Oxford University Choir were singing.
Another was at a wedding in Coolcarrigan for the Wilson Wright Family.
It was in the 70s when security in Ireland was a concern. On arrival, she was escorted up the aisle to organ by high class security.
She was so pleased to have managed the ordeal, and after the service attended the reception on the estate, sitting next to Maureen and Jack Lynch (the ex Taoiseach).
Her glass was constantly filled with lovely wines which she enjoyed.
Not thinking, she took off home in her own car, calling into the butcher Tony Farrell, to collect the weekly Sunday roast.
On seeing her condition, Tony politely intimated that Nancy should get off home as quick as possible.
When enquiring why, he said “because Nancy you are very intoxicated”.
She was horrified, but in those days of course, drinking and driving weren’t considered such a problem.
Nancy was also a very active member of the Kildare Cathedral Choir and Newbridge musical society. Nancy’s leadership in the Girl Guides and Boys Brigade was a great inspiration to many young girls and boys throughout her years.
Having played the organ for 67 years, and 37 of those for us in St Pauls’ Garrison Church on the The Curragh, she has decided to retire.
Nancy, we thank you so much for your talent which you shared with us all.
We will miss your beautiful music, but wish you a very happy and healthy retirement from all the Parishioners of Kildare and Newbrige Churches.
— Written by Maggy McElroy