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Sr Kate’s family makes contact with escapee

February 23rd, 2022 5:45 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

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THE family of a nun who may have rescued a young child from Nazi-occupied France has made contact with the child’s family in Wales, following an appeal in last week’s Southern Star.

Tim Wilcox believes his mother, Yvette Wilcox (now 92, and living in Wales), may have been helped to escape from Paris in 1940 or 1941, by Drimoleague native Sr Kate McCarthy.

Sr Kate grew up in Drimoleague before travelling to France as a teenager to join the Franciscan Sisters of Calais, where she became known as Sister Marie-Laurence.

Her life story, worthy of a Hollywood script, saw her becoming involved with a French resistance group and helping about 200 British soldiers escape. 

In June 1941 she was captured by the Gestapo and was in solitary isolation for 13 months. She managed to evade death on several occasions and was eventually freed from the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp by the Swedish Red Cross in 1945.

Yvette Wilcox’s son Tim reached out, through this newspaper last week, to the family of Sr Kate in West Cork.

This week two of Sr Kate’s relations – her grand nephew Tomas Hayes and her grand niece Eileen Connolly – contacted the paper to reach out to Tim in any way they could.

Both noted that Sr Kate has now, ironically, nieces living in Wales, not far from Yvette.

Writer Catherine Fleming also made contact to say she is in the finishing stages of a book on the life of Sr Kate and has uncovered letters saying the West Cork nun’s name had been put forward as a possible recipient of the Legion d’honneur – France’s highest honour – but somehow it was never awarded.

Following contact with the Franciscan order in Mullingar, Catherine said a very wonderful nun called Sr Clare Brady travelled to Cork and has arranged for the upkeep of Sr Kate’s burial place in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork city, which had previously been in poor order.

Alfie O’Mahony, who had worked at Sr Kate’s family farm in Drominidy, Drimoleague, also contacted The Southern Star to say he had very good memories of the family, and especially Sr Kate’s ‘wonderful’ brother Denis.

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