An appreciation: Remembering ‘Wee Bridget’ Carroll

Bishop Street will never be the same again without her

An appreciation: Remembering ‘Wee Bridget’ Carroll

Bridget with her best friend Kathleen Doherty.

With her trademark waterproof coat, shopping bag in hand, and always with a smile on her face, Bridget Carroll was one of Bishop Street’s most unforgettable residents.

Her death on Saturday morning at Altnagelvin Hospital has left a profound sense of sadness among her friends and neighbours in the street, which she called her home for so many years.

As her remains were brought to Long Tower church on Sunday evening, neighbours stopped to remember a special lady, known for her warm generosity and heart of gold.

It was a journey that Bridget Carroll had made thousands of times before, to a church that became her second home.

Affectionately known as ‘Wee Bridget’ to all her family and friends, Bridget was a daily Communicant until chronic illness took hold several years ago.

At every Benediction service, Holy Hour, Parish Retreat, and Stations of the Cross, Bridget could be found in her familiar seat at the back of the church.

Indeed she was a particular devotee of the yearly parish retreat and loved getting the traditional new outfit for the last day.

Born in Kilkenny on July 16, 1943, Bridget came to live at Nazareth House in Fahan as an infant, and received her education at Nazareth House in Bishop Street.

Her first job was working in the Nazareth House care home where she loved caring for the elderly residents and listening to their stories.

Bridget moved to Dublin to work in the Mater Hospital with her best friend Kathleen, and stayed in the Fair City for 13 years.

However Bridget missed the sense of home she felt in her adopted Derry, and returned to the city where she settled into life working at a number of cafes in the town, becoming a familiar face to many.

For many years she lived in the iconic Rossville Flats in the Bogside, and she was delighted when she was relocated to her new home in Bishop Street when the flats were marked for demolition.

Bridget’s many friendships formed the centre of her life, always staying in touch with her childhood friend Kathleen Smith who is now living in Dublin, Rita McDaid, Monica Gransha, and Kathleen Doherty from Sunbeam Terrace.

You knew she had come for a visit when you heard the doorbell ring, the door open, and her familiar voice shout out – ‘It’s only me!’

The 77 year old loved to have a chat and always kept up with the local news buying every local newspaper each week.

Bridget was a member of many groups often giving her time as a volunteer in Termonbacca, with Cursillo, St Joseph’s Young Priests Society, as a regular chapel cleaner and a parish reader.

Bridget also loved travelling and was the first to sign up for any bus runs in the parish.

Her favourite run without question was to the pilgrimage site of Knock, but her trips also took her as far as Lourdes on six occasions, Fatima, Buncrana, and Lough Derg.

She spoke often of her devotion to the Blessed Mother and Padre Pio, it was this faith that helped her in recent years as she battled her deteriorating health.

Several years ago she moved from her flat at the bottom of Bishop Street, to Alexander House at the top of Bishop Street.

Here, Bridget found a new sense to the meaning of home. She formed new friendships with the staff and fellow residents, and received dedicated and loving care around the clock.

Bridget Carroll will be remembered for her straight talking, unforgettable laugh, loyal friendship and beautiful spirit.  She often said that even though she was not born here, she felt that she was a Derry woman at heart.

Many will miss chatting to her and giving her a wave as she made her way to and from the city centre for her shopping.

Bishop Street will never be the same again without her.

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