Monday 21 October 2019

Mary taught us that 'life was for living'

Maria Herlihy

Meelin's Mary Cregan, who passed away just hours before her own major fund-raiser for cancer services, will be remembered for her "kindness, joy, laughter, good humour and her friendship." 

Despite being in the final stages of her own life, Mary, who was described as a "born nurse", insisted the fund-raiser went ahead last Friday night at the Devon Inn. 

The people answered that call in spades and did so again at her funeral service which was held in Dromcollogher on Monday and which was attended by up to 2,000 people. 

Very movingly, Mary's sister Mairead paid tribute to her much loved sister. Mairead said that Mary taught us "to be brave. She taught us to be strong. She taught us that life was for living".  

She said that her sister had a positive impact on everyone as she had such an infectious personality and a truly unforgettable smile that lit up every room. 

With testament to Mary's character, Mairead said that Mary always challenged "wrong-doing" and she said her sister was a "born nurse" who was full of kindness and compassion. 

Tommy, Mary's brother, wrote a poem for his sister and very movingly said he would forever miss his best friend.

"God picks big fighters to fight the big fights," said Tommy. 

Up to 2,000 people gathered at St Bartholomew's Church where Fr O'Dea, who was assisted by nine other priests, told the congregation that Mary was a woman of great joy. 

Mary will be hugely missed by her heartbroken parents, John and Patricia, her brother Tommy and sister Mairead and Mary's partner Stephen along with her adored nephews and niece John, Ellie and Peadar along with a host of family and a huge number of friends.  In 2016, when Mary was just 30 years old, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and received treatment.

However, despite undergoing extensive treatment for the disease, which had been in remission for a period, her tumour had resurfaced in June last year. 

During the mass, the huge sway of people stood up and clapped three times for the family and for John's last farewell, a rendition of 'My Way'. 

Writing in an online blog, via a GoFundMe fundraising account, which Mary set up last January, she said she "was lucky enough to have the support of many amazing charities" following her cancer diagnosis.

She said: "Unfortunately nobody knows when cancer is going to knock on their door, but it brings amazing comfort to know that there are so many fantastic charities and organisations out there that go above and beyond every day to help people like me!"

"These same organisations/charities would not be possible without fundraising, which is why I am doing something to give back. Any contribution large or small is greatly appreciated & I have no doubt it will help others like me!!"

The four charities to benefit from the fund-raiser will be the Brain Tumour Association of Ireland, Brú Columbanus, which provides accommodation for the families of patients at University Hospital Cork; ACT, (Aid Cancer Treatment organisation), which works to improve quality of life for cancer patients; and BHOC, the (Bandon Hyperbaric Oxygen Centre).