- Mary Markham (1923 - 2012)
Lord, it is mam's anniversary, one year now. It was all so sudden. I can never
forget my disbelief when I knew I would never see her again; never see the smile I liked so much, never hear her voice. I
know Lord, that today I could get very sad, I could get into a bout of self-pity; but at least when I remember her I relive
the good things. There's emptiness in my heart, a deep void that cannot be filled. Fill that emptiness, Lord, with hope and
Friday, March 16th 2012 was the day I had dreaded; the sudden call for mam to her eternal reward. Even though
mam had a cough with a day or two prior to that morning the death came out of the blue. In hindsight she did prepare me in
the nights leading up to her ‘going home' she did say "I'm old and nobody lives forever" and another strange
occurrence was that she talked a lot of her husband, her siblings, parents and relatives during her final week. The most remarkable
of the lot was her call "Mary Mary" a few hours before her death as she lay in bed. When I entered the room I said
"mam there is no one here only myself" and she replied "Mary the mother of God" this is evidence that
mam was being prepared for the next world by Our Lady. Mam had great devotion to Our Blessed Lady and never failed to pray
daily for a happy death; this she certainly got. Mam's final words were "I'm fine now" and on returning to her bedroom
in less than a minute, she had peacefully passed on without calling me or moving a hand. The peace and tranquillity of that
moment will always remain with me. There was a great feeling of warmth and peace in that room for many weeks after mam's death
- I'm convinced Our Lady took mam safely home to Heaven. It was a great consolation to have Nurse Mary O'Connell of Bohyodaun
and Fr. Tom Mc Grath of Labasheeda call to the house on the morning of March 16th.
Mary Whelan was born on February
6th 1923 at Einagh, Moyasta and had six brothers, from an early age she was gifted with a terrific memory this was all very
evident in later years when she recalled many stories from her youth. She had a lifelong friend in Eily Burke later known
to us as Eileen O'Connell. They were classmates in Moyasta N.S. and I often heard her recall the local sports, how they
participated in the three legged race, also the egg and spoon competition. After mam settling down in Derryguiha
in 1946 the friendship continued with Eileen and after a few years Eily was to marry Timothy O'Connell in Carniskey. The visiting
and outings in the following decades were greater than ever. Mam also recalled her trips by bicycle to Kilrush each Saturday,
fitting in some shopping, a few visits to friends or relatives and finally a few prayers in the church before heading home.
During the war years 1939 to 1945 rationing of goods was rampant and mam would bring the groceries including loose tea, she
often told me that her father anxiously waited with the kettle boiled to make a pot of tea. Her many stories from olden days
reflected on Christmas time and how her father would visit each bedroom on Christmas morning and wish them a happy Christmas
and again on New Year's Day wishing them a happy New Year.
She had a great reminiscence of the neighbours from her childhood in Moyasta and recalled surnames
such as Lynch, O'Dea, Keane, Madigan, Crotty, Purtill, Queally and Taylor. She spoke of the great athletes in the
Bradley family (Blackweir), Greene family (Bealaha) and Brennan family (Tullycrine). The Harveys of Querrin, when on
their way to the bog, were annaul callers to the Whelan home during mam's youth.
She had a special interest in keeping contact with her cousins and recalled the Sunday
trips to Clohanes, where her Uncle John Whelan and family resided. Herself and cousin ‘Kitty' Catherine, attended
the strand races in Kilkee and went to many dances. Each Sunday on her way to Clohanes mam would get mass in Doonbeg.
Yes indeed the visiting of cousins was a regular for mother, she stayed on holidays at O'Mara's in Kilkee and made visits
to the Mulqueen homestead in Molougha. The highlight of the reunion scene was the discovery and meeting of her first cousins
from New Zealand in the 1980's. The following years saw many exchanges in letters and Christmas cards.
Life in Derryguiha
for mother was of a different scale to single days in Moyasta, the new responsibilities of house and farm work, rearing of
eight children etc! resulted in a busy schedule. Dad was a hard worker and along with farm work he also worked in the construction
industry. Mam was quite versatile and could take control of baking, washing, poultry keeping, feeding of animals, milking
and hay making when called upon. During the first twenty years of married life she made several trips to town and Moyasta
in her pony and trap and often cycled the same route.
Some of the stories recalled by mam included the Strawboys at
Derryguiha on her arrival with Dad after the honeymoon. She said all the neighbours from both venues; Moyasta and Derryguiha
had assembled to welcome the newly- weds home. She also recalled walking to Labasheeda Hall with dad for a ceili on St. Patrick's
night March 1946. The nights in Doonbeg Hall were also mentioned this was a big outing for my parents accompanied by Eileen
and Timothy O'Connell, often with Dad's car making a sudden stop for a top up to the radiator.
Mam did a good deal of
travelling during her years, she was a good conversationalist, out- going and made many new and lasting friends. She visited
Limerick on several occasions, together with Nellie (Markham) and Josie Sexton they often bought up-to-date style etc! Yes
style was very important to her and she had to be looking at her best, this is very obvious from photographs, she always looked
‘tasty'. Mam stayed overnight in Limerick and then caught the return bus to Ballydineen Cross and collected her bicycle
from Considines shed, before cycling to Derryguiha. In more recent decades, I can recall mam and aunt Flo going to Dublin
by motor car on the weekend of an All-Ireland final. She also made her first trip to London and Oxford by aeroplane in
the early 1970's. This was a great experience for mother as she got to visit and stay with her brothers Martin and Michael.
Cooking was a great favourite of mam's life; in the first forty years of her life she didn't have electricity as rural
electrification didn't reach us until the early 1960's. This meant that making of bread had to be done on the griddle by the
fireside. The well water had to be fetched and the kettle had to be boiled over the fire before making tea. The 1960's and
70's brought about many improvements with the purchasing of a motor car, house improvements etc!
The cooker made life
much easier for the housewife in rural Ireland and the large apple tarts, loaves, scones etc! made by Mam are still vivid
to my memory. She didn't always cook using the cooker the open heart fire was availed of to boil the black pot of potatoes
and at Christmas time the goose was cooked using the fire. A woman's work was on-going in the house and outside the house,
I remember as a youngster my mother, feeding the calves, milking of cows by hand, chopping cabbage for Bonhams, gathering
potatoes, hay making, sewing and making bed sheets, painting and papering, white washing, bringing in geese and turkey eggs
from the nest and subsequently the rearing of goslings and turkey chicks. At Christmas time a goose was parcelled
off to Uncle Martin in London, and a parcel of clothes would be a welcome return gift. These are but a sample of
the work done by my mother and all the great women of that era.
As previously mentioned mother had great devotion to
Our Blessed Lady and the Sacred Heart; if the bulb underneath the picture went out, it had to be replaced without delay. Her
rosary had to be recited daily and in later years this had extended to three rosaries plus private prayers and novenas. Mam
looked forward to Sunday mass in Kilmurry and the Sunday chat after mass. She also attended parish missions and Dromelihy
Shrine. May and October were the two main months for the family rosary and when kids we had to kneel down on the kitchen floor
facing the Sacred Heart and join in with our parents reciting the rosary and litany. She loved going to the Marian shrine,
Knock, Co. Mayo, this was an annual trip with the Kilmurry McMahon group and on some occasions travelled by car. She got great
peace and strength from the Knock Shrine pilgrimage. At home the sprinkling of holy water took place morning, noon and last
thing at night. The farm animals even got a sprinkle. Another fine example of her faith was witnessed in the months and
years following dad's death in 2007, she didn't over lament, she would just say "I hope John is happy in Heaven"
Mam had some very enjoyable days these included weddings of family, neighbours, friends and relatives. Dad and she had the
grandchildren baptisms, first holy communions, confirmations etc! They also made trips to Lisdoonvarna, Ennis, Kilrush, Kilkee
plus the annual tours organised by Mrs Crowe for the senior citizens. Mother was never a woman for drink but at Christmas
time or the occassional function she would have a glass of sherry or a 'drop of baileys'. These tours spanned over twenty
years in fact my parents availed of all the twenty plus tours. Mother was happy while meeting people and chatting and this
was also evident during her retirement years when she strolled off to visiting the neighbours - Eily O'Gorman, Mrs. Madigan,
Hanrahans' Margaret McMahon, Ellie Frawley and Flo Mack's. For twenty five years, Friday was shopping day for
mam and she signed the pension book with great skill.
Life can have many ups and downs and mam's life was no exception,
there were stays in hospital, bereavements, and then the years when old age began to set in. She was one of the lucky ones
who remained at home in the comfort of her surrounds. She loved her own corner and was reluctant to leave it. Luckily enough
with the Home Help Scheme she had the great assistance of caring and loving ladies come in and help with cooking, house- keeping
and personal care.
Cooking was a daily routine for mother, I can almost taste the filling dinners when arriving home
from National School after a three mile walk with an empty stomach. In the season of autumn we would have a home- made apple
tart at tea time. This tart was made in a large square baking tin in the gas cooker. Custard and jelly was served each Sunday
after lunch and rice was made during winter time. Another great feature was the scones made with flour, eggs and currants
not forgetting the big sweet loaf at Christmas time. The home-made pudding was done to perfection at the time of the killing
of the pig; I can still almost taste the steak being fried on the pan over the fire.
Sport was a great favourite with
mam and in the 1960's and 1970's she would attend club matches to see her sons play for the black and amber, she also took
a great interest in athletics and boxing. This interest carried on through the 1980's 1990's and 2000 plus when her grandchildren
excelled in sport.
The telephone was a great addition to the family home and since 1985 the installation of a phone
to her home made the world a smaller place, this afforded mother to talk to her family in Ireland and Australia, and it also
gave her great comfort to chat with her brothers in Clare and London.
Looking back when it came to interests and hobbies
I suppose her obvious one was photography, she did have a camera in her young days and had a good collection of black
and white prints. Her favourite programmes on R.T.E. included the Riordans and the Late Late Show, while her favourite
entertainers were Maura O'Connell, Delores Keane, Christy Hennessey and P.J. Murrihy. Radio 1 and the Gay Byrne was high on
her list. Reading was mostly confined to the weekly Clare Champion and the Irish Messenger. Style and taste
was another of her interests she did look her best for occasions. She was also a good organiser and housekeeper; she had to
have everything in its place.
We are very thankful to God and Mary the Blessed Virgin for having our parents live to
an old age. We have lost them here on earth. But we have also gained them as our special representatives with God and Mary
in Heaven. I am sure they are there and caring for us. God thank you for letting us have such wonderful parents, who gave
us care, support and faith. Mother Theresa once said "we all long for Heaven where God is."
The past twelve
months some say ‘it flew' but I say it didn't - the daily thoughts, the reminders everywhere I look, the locking of
the door and the opening of the door, the empty chair, the empty room, the silence on leaving and on returning are many of
the daily experiences. Then there are times when I say ‘mother you are gone from this valley of tears to the bed of
Anniversary) In loving memory of Mary Markham (nee Whelan) of Derryguiha, Kilmurry McMahon, Co. Clare who died on 16th March
2012. R.I.P. In the stillness of the morning, March 16th, Mam you were called peacefully and safely home, accompanied by Mary,
the mother of God. Mam it wasn't easy to let you go, but your life of goodness was complete on earth. Our faith is strong
and we know a mother's love never ends. We give thanks to Jesus and his Mother for having you all through the years. Mam,
thank you! For your years of hard work, care and love to your family. Immaculate heart of Mary, pray for us, now and at the
hour of our death. Dearly loved and missed by your family. Anniversary Mass in St. Benedict's Church, Coolmeen on Friday March
15th at 7.30pm.
Mary (nee Whelan)
Derryguiha, Kilmurry McMahon.
Mary's family would like to
thank most sincerely all those who sympathised and supported us on our recent sad and sudden loss. To those who travelled
long distances and came from overseas, called to the home, sent Mass cards, floral tributes, letters of sympathy, e-mails,
text messages and telephoned with messages of sympathy, attended the house, the funeral parlour, funeral Mass and burial,
a heart-felt thanks. To nurse Mary O'Connell (Bohyodaun) and Fr. Tom McGrath MHM who attended Mam on March 16th, the morning
of her sudden departure. We thank all the ladies who helped mam throughout the years but especially her regulars; Mary, Teresa
and Ann. Thanks to Jane Coughlan (Clarecare), District Nurses, Duffys Pharmacy, thanks to Fr Tom O'Dea, Fr. Colm Hogan, Fr.
John Kelly and her faithful friend Fr. John O'Keeffe. We thank Dr.Harty and Dr. Marika who attended Mary throughout the years.
The support of our neighbours and friends will always be cherished, thank you for all the
food and help at the family
home. Míle buíochas to all who participated in the funeral Mass; readers, choir, solo singers, musicians, organist,
sacristan, mass server, Br. Seán McNamara for his Mass tribute, traffic stewards and to our wonderful neighbours who
prepared mam's final resting place with such care. Sincere thanks to undertakers Paddy and Frances Duggan of Kilmihil for
their professional duties carried out. Thanks to Shane, Micheál and Harrys for catering at Tir na nÓg on the
day of the funeral. The huge attendance over the two days is much appreciated, we especially pay tribute to Micheál
McDermott and the Clare senior football team, Clare Athletics Association, Cranny/Coolmeen Golf Society, Irish Amateur Boxing
Assoc. Kerry-Agri Creameries, Gort Golf Club, John Soffe of An Póst. Finally we publicly thank Mary the ‘Mother
of God' who granted mam her life-long wish of a happy and peaceful death. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered for
your intentions. Months mind Mass for Mary will be offered in St. Benedict's Church, Coolmeen on Friday April 20th at 8p.m.
from the Clare Champion.....