The magnificent seven

Foundation nurses

28 December 1915. Julia Cooney (seated, second from the left) enters Our Lady’s Home, taking the total number of volunteer nurses to seven. Julia was born near Wellington, NSW, in 1887, and educated by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Perthville. Julia and May McGahey were both parishioners at Ryde and known to Father Edward Gell. Julie asked to joined the community at Our Lady’s Home in early 1915. At the time, she was assisting her brother, who ran a small store, and his wife with their young family. Eileen asked Julia to wait until she returned from Europe before joining. Julia duly returned after Christmas and went on to have one of the longest vocations of all the nurses. As the Society’s first Novice Mistress, she encouraged new members to find the ‘hidden work’ in their duties and to see the value in everyone and their situation. Julia died on 21 December 1978, having served the sick poor for nearly 63 years. Her life-long nurse companion, Mother May McGahey, died three weeks later.

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