Ursula Stein lived a contented life in her adopted community of Doolbally, Ballyshannon where she built a beloved home
At an age when some people would have started to think about their retirement, Ursula Stein together with her second husband Manfred, moved from her native Germany to Donegal.
In 1979 they went for the new experience of life in the country and settled at Doobally near Ballyshannon.
At first, they lived in a caravan surrounded by untouched forest and bog. While local builders assembled a timber-framed bungalow ordered from Canada, Ursula and Manfred restored an overgrown stone cottage which they discovered on their piece of land and turned it into a shed for calves and sheep. Alongside with keeping animals Ursula created an amazing kitchen garden admired by many.
People would make a point of driving up to Doobally to have a look at the vegetables and strawberry beds sheltered behind currant and raspberry bushes.
Ursula’s curiosity, her determination and her enthusiasm for everything new carried her through times of big challenges.
Her warm-heartedness and openness made her a highly valued member of the Ballyshannon community. Vera and Sean Lang’s Abbey Water Mill Foundation was one project Ursula loved to support.
She seldom missed to deliver her legendary apple cake on a Sunday and would always ask for donations for the mill instead of presents.
After the sudden death of her husband in 1996, she found the courage to take on a life on her own in the remote area of Doobally, highly respected and supported by neighbours and friends. For them, she was somebody they could trust when in need of a listener.
Neighbour’s children came to her to practise their German. Ursula’s sharp memory made her a contemporary witness for historic events which she was willing to pass on to younger generations.
Ursula lived a contented life – until disaster struck in 2011. Devastating wildfires destroyed her beloved house and all her belongings on May 1. She only survived the catastrophe because her neighbour Patricia Gallagher rescued her shortly before the fire which seemed to be under control, sparked up again and engulfed her property completely.
The shocked local community showed great sympathy and stepped in immediately to help. The Knather and Surroundings Residence Association (KASRA) organised a much-noticed charity concert in Dorrian’s Hotel. The Travers family offered to let a house and even after the traumatic experience of losing everything, Ursula decided to begin anew.
She moved to Coolcholly and enjoyed being closer to her friends and Ballyshannon’s facilities. Her 90th birthday was celebrated with a great number of guests at the Salmon Inn in Mullinasole.
Return to Germany
A year later she eventually decided to move back to her native country to be near her family. Many of her Irish friends kept in contact, visited her in northern Germany and so got an impression of Ursula’s first home country. Her second one was Ireland. After a long, eventful and fulfilled life, Ursula Stein passed away peacefully on May 22aged 95. Her funeral took place in her home town Schwerin.
Her warmth and kindness will be sadly missed by her son Uwe, her grandchildren Annika and Benjamin, their partners Linda and Nicolas, four great-grandchildren and all her friends. The traces of her love remain with them.
Uwe Schmidt and his family would like to send a warm and deeply-felt thank you to neighbours, to KASRA and to the Ballyshannon community.
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