The passing of a woman with a heart of gold

The late Nellie Coll had a lot in common with Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Tommy Curran


Tommy Curran


The passing of a woman with a heart of gold

There was deep shock and sadness when news filtered trough of the death of Mrs Nellie Coll.  A native of Cotteen, Derrybeg, she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at a fundraising event at the Carrigart Day Care Centre on Wednesday evening March 13.  

A Kind and Compassionate woman

Nellie, née Boyle, spent her lifetime helping others.  At her Funeral Mass in St Mary’s Church, Derrybeg on Saturday, the Parish Priest of Gaoth Dobhair, an Dr. Pádraig Ó Baoighill said Nellie Coll was a virtuous woman who had a healthy agenda throughout her life and reached out to help other people. "She was a kind, generous, warm and compassionate person who had a lot in common with Mother Teresa of Calcutta," he said.

Early Years

Nellie was born in Cotteen, Derrybeg and was a daughter of the late Owen Ellen Boyle, who served as a postman in the area for many years and the late Nappy Boyle. She was one of a family of six. In her teenage years she went to work in the former famous Crolly Doll Factory. She was very good with her hands and she was employed making outfits for the dolls. It would appear that she was a very diligent worker because after a short period she got promoted.  At that time she was a member of the highly acclaimed Aisteoirí Ghaoth Dobhair. A talented actress she took part in a number of plays and on occasions she traveled with the drama group to other parts of the country.

Donegal Association

In  the early sixties she met her future husband, Michael Coll, a native of Carrigart. He used to serve in Teach Néill, the public house now known as Pete’s Pub at Derrybeg. They were married fifty four years. In 1963 she moved  with her husband to live in Manchester.  In 1979, she was one of those who founded the Donegal Association in Manchester.  

Return Home

They would organise a St Patrick’s Day Parade each year, and Nellie thoroughly enjoyed dressing up and taking part in this parade. This organisation would raise funds by running dances and other events. The organisation would  give financial assistance to individuals  who were  sick and wanted to return back home to Donegal. At that time there was a lot of people from Donegal living in Manchester and they would meet in clubs and other social gatherings.

A Good Samaritan

During her time in Manchester she began fostering children ranging from babies to teenagers. She found this work very rewarding  and looked after and cared for them for many years. Down through the years, she has done sterling work in helping the poor, the hungry and strangers who had no place to call home. One could describe her as ‘the good Samaritan.'  She enjoyed being busy and was very good in helping others and was not afraid of hard work. Tributes have been paid to her for locating individuals who had lost contact with their home in Donegal. With the assistance from the Irish Community Centre in Manchester, she successfully traced three individuals who have been missing for many years.  She also volunteered in the local Day Care Centre in Manchester and after moving to live in Carrigart she gave a helping hand to the Day Centre there.

Helping the Vulnerable

She had worked tirelessly in helping much needed funds for the various projects undertaken by Fr. Pat Clarke, an Irish Holy Ghost Father who has spent almost a lifetime working in South America. He works for and lives with the poorest of the poor in Sao Paulo. He pioneered a centre for culture and arts which offers an alternative for street children vulnerable to drugs and gang violence on the streets of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Nellie in association with the Donegal Association in Manchester and her sisters, Máire and Teresa have managed to raise a substantial sum of money for Fr. Pat to help with his projects in Brazil.


A very intelligent individual Nellie has been involved in tutoring people in Irish and mathematics. She was a very talented seamstress and is credited for making curtains, costumes and various other items. She also made the stage curtains for Amharclann Ghaoth Dobhair which officially opened  in 1962. The same curtains are still in use.

Funeral Mass

Nellie’s remains reposed at her home in Cotteen, Derrybeg on Thursday and Friday.  Her concelebrated Requiem Mass was celebrated in St. Mary’s Church, Derrybeg at 10.30a.m. on Saturday. The main celebrant was an Dr. Pádraig Ó Baoighill and concelebrant was Fr. Brian Ó Fearraigh, C.C., and Séiplíneach Phobal Scoil Ghaoth Dobhair. The singers were:  Eileen Sweeney, Deirdre Brennan, Catherine Diver, Noel Ó Dúgáin, and Patrick Corcoran. Noel Ó Dugáin was also on guitar and the organist was Hugh Hiudaí Beag Gallagher. Catherine Diver sang ‘Mo Shean Dún na nGall’ and Patrick Corcoran sang ‘Lady of Knock’  at communion time while Noel Ó Dugáin of Clannad and his niece Deirdre Brennan sang ‘Thíos Cois na Trá’ as the remains were leaving the church. Her funeral took place afterwards at Magheragallon cemetery.

She is survived by her husband, Michael,  sons, James and Eugene, daughter, Michelle, grand-children, in-laws other family members and many friends. She was predeceased by her sister, Nuala Boyle.