Nora was born in June 1945 to Jim O’Mahony and Kitty (née Collins). Her parents met and were engaged within two weeks of their meeting in 1937. Nora’s father had been born in England and he had come to live in Ireland as his father was a customs official when Ireland was under British rule. Jim’s grandmother was the actress Elizabeth Potter. He had small parts in a number of films made in Ireland in the 1940s including Captain Boycott. His sister Nora (whom Nora was called after) was also an actress most famous for playing Godmother in the RTE children’s series, Wanderly Wagon.
Nora’s mother, Kitty Collins, was originally from west Cork and was a grand niece of Michael Collins.
Nora was one of six children. Five sisters and a brother. Nora was four and a half years old when her father died. The eldest Mary (Mary Banotti) was just 10. Her mother was a widow at 38. A Bank employee her father only left her mother with a small pension. A domestic science teacher she was able to go back to work in the College of Catering, Cathal Brugha Street.
At the age of five, Nora, along with her sisters, was sent to boarding school in Wicklow - the same school that her mother had attended.
Nora subsequently went to University College Dublin and studied chemistry, obtaining a BSC and a diploma in microbiology. She became an Industrial chemist.