The last two years brought a very special woman into my life. She was Kathleen O’Rourke: a poet, teacher and an inspiration to those who met her.
Kathleen died suddenly on Jan 12th and is, and will be, a huge loss to those who knew her.
She worked in education for most of her life, travelled and worked abroad, was a much loved aunt who talked so fondly of her relatives and life in her past. She will be sadly missed by her families: O’Rourke, Donnan, Schofield and Gorevan. She is also so missed by her friends and writing colleagues.
I have worked as her tutor and ‘student’ over the last two years and was ever moved by her capacity for empathy and a ‘stillness’ that infused the room when she arrived.
Her poetry showed a mind that was intellectually astute, candid and often delivered us a wit and humour that laid any notions of grandeur to rest. Latterly her writing was about her past relatives, a particularly memorable poem of great merit was on her brother, Patrick. She wrote humorous anecdotes on taxi drivers after she lost her own car, ‘Madame.’ She wrote about Neruda, women of power, children’s street games and poetry that gave us a cultural history of this Glasgow that she lived in and looked at very keenly indeed.
Linda Jackson, Creative Writing Tutor, University of Strathclyde
‘Kathleen was a character whose acerbic wit and skill with words created enduring images of everyday events. (Liz Innes, friend and poetry group)
‘A classroom teacher, she never chased fame, first things first then lessons were called. A smiling call for each child’s name.’ (Michael Kerrins, former pupil and poetry group.’
‘Eyes sparkling with life, Mischievous aside made with care. She had style.’ (Rosemary Morgan. Poetry group colleague)
The open door means someone dear has left. But listen now! Amid our grief and gloom Is Kathleen reading in another room? (Bob Chessar, poetry group)
Only last June I lost my little French car
She died suddenly, silent and serene
I hope I leave as she did - a well-beloved old star.
She had the air of a nicely reared Bourgeois
Navy outfit, silver fascia, accessories? Green;
Headlamps like chic femme’s eyes, rimmed in noir.
She had no name that would have been familiar
I called her Madame, kept her mystique pristine
I hope I leave as Madame did – a well-beloved old star
She resembled a wise and stately grandmamma
Who knew her engine, and the foibles of any machine
Headlamps like chic femme’s eyes, rinsed in noir.
We travelled well together, near and far
And if I tended her with care, she was never base or mean
I hope I leave as Madame did – a well beloved old star.
She collapsed one day on the edge of the Boulevard.
My fault: I forgot we weren’t as fit as we might have been.
Only last June, I lost my little French car
I hope I leave as Madame did – a well-beloved old star.
There will be a requiem mass for Kathleen on Thursday, Jan 22nd at 12.30pm in St Simon’s church, Partick Cross.