We are greatly saddened at the news of the passing of one of our founder members and long-standing colleagues in the interpreting profession, Evelyn Conroy (née Nolan).
Evelyn was a hugely talented, inspirational and energetic practitioner and trainer. She was one of the graduates of the very first university-level training course for sign language interpreters in Ireland, organised by the Irish Deaf Society, Trinity College Dublin and Bristol University, and one of the pioneers of the ISL / English interpreting profession. She was a former Chairperson of the Irish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (IASLI) and later, a member of the steering committee established in 2010 to oversee the establishment of a new professional body, which became CISLI.
A Dublin native, Evelyn relocated to Galway and with her husband Martin Conroy, established the Conroy School of ISL, which became the Centre for Sign Language Studies in 2001. CSL offered an interpreter booking service, ISL classes, and Signature Level 6 and 7 qualifications in ISL and interpreting. The ISL Interpreting agency now continues the work of CSL’s interpreter booking services, run by Evelyn’s sister Susan McCormack.
Evelyn offered CPD and training to practitioners in a wide range of topics over the years, including legal, medical and religious interpreting, translation and cultural aspects, and was a published author on sociolinguistics of signed languages. With Patrick Matthews and the Cork Deaf Association, she set up a weekend pre-interpreting course in Cork in 2002 for aspiring interpreters and other interested persons, which many current interpreters will have fond memories of attending.
Evelyn was a well-known and well-loved figure in the Deaf community, particularly in local area of Galway, and a trailblazer in the field – certainly in terms of CSL’s work in the west of Ireland. She was supportive and approachable, and a mentor to many interpreters and students. A tremendously reflective practitioner, she loved the challenge of making bold new ideas into reality. She was also a warm and funny woman who brought that warmth into everything she did. Those of us who knew her were hugely saddened to hear of her illness and inspired by her courage and energy in fighting it.
We send our sympathies to her husband Martin, her three girls, her sister Susan, her family and friends, and all who knew her.
Rest in Peace.