The death has occurred in Co Wexford of a woman who was at the centre of a major national news story in the 1950s.

83-year-old Sheila Cloney from Fethard-on-Sea in Wexford died yesterday in hospital.

She and her late husband Seán were the subject of much national and international attention in 1957 in a dispute over how their children were going to be educated.

The Catholic Church at the time imposed a requirement on Catholics entering a so-called 'mixed marriage' that they make a firm promise that any children be educated in the Roman Catholic faith.

This requirement had been promulgated in the decree Ne Temere approved by Pope Pius X in 1907.

Mrs Cloney, a Protestant, was not prepared to accept the consequences of the promise made by Seán prior to their marriage.

She removed their children from the jurisdiction rather than send them to the Catholic school.

The issue led to what was known as the 'Fethard Boycott' and later became the subject of a film, 'A Love Divided'.

Ne Temere was overtaken in 1970 by a later decree, Matrimonia Mixta, issued as an Apostolic Leter by Pope Paul Vi.

That removed the requirement of a solemn promise, but said it remained the duty of the Catholic partner 'to see to it that the children be baptized and brought up in that same faith'.

Sheila and Seán Cloney were later reconciled, and the children were home-schooled.

Seán Cloney, who was to become a well-known historian, died ten years ago.

Sheila Cloney is survived by two of her daughters, Eileen and Hazel; another daughter, Mary, predeceased her.

Her funeral will take place tomorrow in Fethard-on-Sea.