'A life lived with determination, energy, joy and loads of love' - Son pays poignant tribute on death of farming mother
My mother died on the Wednesday of Easter Week. I was asked by the family to say a few words at the funeral mass - I hope you don't mind me sharing a version of them with you.
It is difficult to eulogise a woman who never sought praise or credit. My mother simply got on with life and lived it with determination, energy, joy and loads of love.
Easter was her time of year. More often than not her birthday fell during the season and had she lived she would have been 90 on the Saturday of Easter Week. On Easter Monday night in 1945 she met the love of her life at a dance.
She and my father courted for seven years until they married in 1952 and she came to live with him and his parents. She often spoke of the warm welcome she got from her parents-in-law and from the neighbours.
Not long after marrying they were given the land by my grandfather and worked hard to develop it. They were industrious and productive in more ways than one - they built the farm together, they brought us up together and poured their lives into us.
Between 1953 and 1973 they had 11 children. When we were young, my mother milked around eight cows by hand every morning before coming up from the yard to get us ready for school. It was a time when cash was scarce, when people bought what they could and made the rest by hand - from bread to bed-sheets, from jumpers to socks. The work never stopped.
Like all parents of that generation they were adamant their children's lives would be better than theirs. They were true to their word. They inherited a country on its knees in the 1950s and with little formal education and training to support them, they handed us an Ireland on its feet. We owe my parents and their peers a huge debt of gratitude.
While my mother loved the men in her life, she was a woman's woman. Nothing gave her greater joy than to see her daughters making their own way in the world as strong, independent women. Rumour has it that the hand that rocked 11 cradles also rocked the system when she voted for Mary Robinson.