Remembering Grace: A personal account from an old Irish friend

Snow in Tompkins Square park where Grace Farrell died

Read more: Homeless Irish woman freezes to death in New York City

A friend of Grace Farrell from her time in an orphanage in Drogheda, Ireland has penned a memoriam for Grace, the young Irish woman who froze to death in New York last Sunday.

A childhood friend, now based in Washington, knew Grace during their time together in the Irish orphanage.

Grace Farrell died huddled on the steps of St. Brigids Church in Tompkins Square Park in new York, a church built by Irish famine emigrants. It was the coldest night of the year.

She had come to New York to follow her dream as a talented artist. She died alone and freezing and homeless.

She was just 35.

Her childhood friend wrote a beautiful tribute after we contacted him. Here’s what he had to say to IrishCentral.com:

‘Here's what I'm prepared to say about Grace.  She had the name for a reason.  I knew her only as a child back in Drogheda in the 1980s. 

We were nine years apart and she lived with us for but a short time.  For how long and why I cannot say.  I don't know and nor do I wish to speculate. Eventually she left and I never saw her again.

She was a sweet girl with a lovely smile, good natured and she possessed a heart of gold.  She believed in the promise of life and sought it out for herself here in the U.S.  Ironically we both ended up in the U.S. the same year (1993) but didn't know that. 

Somewhere her life took a sad and unfortunate turn, but if recent reports are any indication, she was helping others in distress, even amidst her own struggles.  For many, Grace is another statistic among the homeless. 

But for her family and those she met throughout the course of her life she was a real human being who lived a life that was cut all too short. 

She should be remembered for the young innocent child she once was and the mother she later became. It's a heartbreaking and tragic end.  My heart goes out to her family and all those who knew her.”

The lifeless body of Mary Grace Farrell, known as Grace Farrell, was discovered by a homeless friend at 8 a.m. last Sunday morning in an alcove at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church on Avenue B, a church founded by Irish immigrants in the 1840s.

Preliminary autopsy results have proved inconclusive, and further toxicology tests are being conducted before the exact cause of death is known.

A spokeswoman from the office of New York’s Chief Medical Examiner told IrishCentral.com that the Irishwoman’s body had been identified by family members and that funeral arrangement have yet to be arranged.

It is expected that the woman died as a result of exposure due to Saturday night’s plummeting temperatures.

Farrell had emigrated from Ireland when she was 17 years old as an aspiring artist. However, she had fallen destitute after alcohol dependency left her estranged from an abusive husband and her son who is thought to be around nine years old.

Read more: Homeless Irish woman freezes to death in New York City

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