Opinion

Thursday 21 September 2017

Mary's genius was to simultaneously restrain and nurture family's madness

Death is the unavoidable truth of the human story but we never get used to it. The passing of the force of nature that was Mary Keane robs our columnist of part of his childhood

Playwright John B Keane with his wife Mary
Playwright John B Keane with his wife Mary

All families face the loss that accompanies death. We wait for the last breath of the old. We mourn by the terminal beds of those who cannot fight illness any longer. And we are shocked and our faith betrayed by the sudden loss of the young.

Death is the immense unavoidable truth of our human story. But there's no getting used to it. What a summer it has been. Some of our very best have gone, young and old. I am in Thailand at the moment, where my cousin Nicc Schuster spent part of his gap year. I look out at the sun setting on the Gulf of Thailand here in Koh Samui and say a quiet prayer for Nicc who so loved this place. He was planning to come back before his life was cut so tragically short in the Berkeley tragedy. Nicc was just 21 years old.

Last weekend, I was in Nanning, China when my cousin Conor texted me with news of my aunty Mary's death in the Bons in Tralee. She was 86, at the end of her natural span. We grieve her in a different way to Nicc, but with no less love. For my generation, something of our own childhood has gone with her passing.

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