In September 1980 I was on the bus into Dublin having just arrived from Holyhead and on my way to meet my future mother in law for the first time. It was way after midnight as the boat had been delayed. Catherine and myself had met some 18 months previously in Bangla Desh both of us working for Concern. Catherine had returned home some 4 months previously and I was going to join her in Dublin, but I had never met Ma and I doubted whether arriving at 2 or 3 in the morning would be a good start. I shouldn't have had any doubts because Ma received me with open arms and treated me then and after that as her son. Looking back at that, it must not have been easy for her, Ma was a deeply religious person and her church was very much her guide in life. The Catholic Dutch at that time were considered a very liberal lot not to speak of the Dutch Protestants.
Ma lived in the house in Dublin she and her husband had moved into at the start of their marriage in 1954 which had been so short-lived when after barely 4 years her husband passed away. She shortly thereafter also lost her second child. Times were not easy and Ma decided then to return to Lismore where she was born and where her mother still lived. Ma moved back to Dublin in 1978 when Catherine started working with Concern and loved living in the city and being close to her favourite church in Gardiner street, which she visited twice daily.
Ma was a very private person and above all a lady and was very proud of her appearance and looked years younger than her actual age. This was one of her big secrets and it took me a considerable time to find out her real age. The way I found out was typical of Ma, she just informed me she had a buspass, and I had to ask Catherine what that meant.
For us though, Ma had also a caring side, it was only recently we found out that while in Dublin she was in the Legion of Mary, going around the flats in North- Dublin in the eighties was not an easy thing to do. Ma was receiving a non-contributory pension and lived very prudently and was satisfied with the basics in life and little luxury, she was very fond of her television and specifically Coronation street and Eastenders. With her generous heart, when there was the Ethiopian famine in Africa she gave everything she had then to Concern, because as she said the people in Africa needed it more than herself.
Ma had also a fun side like the day she when, already well into her eighties, she decided to have a go at the swing in the garden. And she did, not a gentle swing as one would expect from a lady of her age but gave it a real go.
Sometimes though times would catch up with her and when she told us that drivers in the cars were shouting and honking at her, we had to gently remind her that that was not because of her young appearance and good looks but that the yellow boxes on the street junctions were not pedestrian crossings.
Thank you Ma, Thank you for your care, Thank you for being part of our lives and Thank you for the memories which we will treasure forever. We are sure that you are now where you hoped your faith would bring you.
We all will treasure these memories and we are sure that Ma is now in the place she hoped her faith would bring her.
I would like to thank Father Cullinan for his lovely service, the altar boys and girls for their lovely assistance and Pat and Kevin Ryan for making all the arrangements, all of you made this difficult day a little bit less difficult.
A special word of thanks for the staff of St. Cathages home and Conna nursing home for their care of Ma when her health started to decline and a very special thanks to the staff of St. Josephs Hospital in Dungarvan specifically the Sacred Heart Unit, where Ma spent her last few years. Your care and compassions went way beyond your duties and I have often remarked to Catherine that Ma must have felt to be in heaven already especially when you gave her chocolate, because she loved her chocolate.
Finally I would like to thank you all for your support and compassion in the last few days and would like to invite you all to Ballyrafter House Hotel after the burial.