[EVG photo from February 2011]
On Feb. 19, 2011, a woman froze to death in her makeshift bedding on Avenue B between Seventh Street and Eighth Street in a doorway at the under-renovation St. Brigid's.
In the days that followed, there were several media accounts of the woman, Grace Farrell. From the Daily News:
She came from Ireland half a life ago, a blue-eyed 17-year-old determined to make a splash in New York's art scene with her colorful portraits and vivid landscapes.
On Sunday morning — years after her life started to go bad in a haze of alcohol and a lousy marriage — Grace Farrell, 35, was found dead on the sidewalk in front of St. Brigid's Church on Avenue B in the East Village.
Her body was ice-cold from sleeping one too many nights on the street.
She spent her last night alive on a bed of cardboard in a church alcove. Thin blankets barely sheltered her from the brutal winter weather.
There's now a new documentary on RTÉ Radio 1 in Ireland titled Grace & Emmanuel. The special documents the lives of Farrell and Emmanuel Touhey, who grew up together at St. Vincent's Children’s Home in Drogheda on the east coast of Ireland. Touhey emigrated to the United States a few years before Farrell. Their lives took very different paths, as Touhey became an editor at C-SPAN's website.
In Washington D.C., Emmanuel read the news in the New York papers. Although he hadn’t seen Grace since his time in St. Vincent’s Children’s Home, he wanted her to be remembered as more than just another grim statistic.
“I think despite how hard she tried and how much she hoped to live a life that she wanted to live for her son and for her family, the odds were against her I think from the beginning.”
You can listen to the episode here. There's an accompanying article at The Irish Times here.