‘CARING’ The late Elaine Connolly.
A BRAVE, beautiful, loving and caring family woman, who excelled at everything she did. That is how the late Elaine Connolly (nee O’Malley) was remembered at her funeral Mass at Roundfort Church last Friday.
There was an immense sense of shock and a huge outpouring of grief in south Mayo following the news that the 35-year-old Ballinrobe native had passed away on Tuesday last, following a long battle with illness.
A loving wife to Ollie Connolly, and a devoted mother to her two-year-old daughter, Lucy, Elaine was the daughter of Paddy and Bernie O’Malley, Ballynew, Ballinrobe.
A letter from her parents to their third eldest daughter – ‘Nainey’ – was read out to the congregation at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Roundfort, recalling ‘beautiful memories’ and saying how proud they were of Elaine who ‘gave everything her all’.
During the Mass, celebrated by Fr Michael Murphy, Roundfort PP, symbols of Elaine’s life were brought to the altar: magazines, symbolising her love of fashion, beauty and interior design; a family photo, a symbol of the love and happiness present in Elaine’s life; a flower-girl’s basket that had been used on Elaine and Ollie’s wedding day three years ago, symbolising one of the happiest days of her life.
Elaine’s work uniform was also brought to the altar, reflecting her dedication and commitment to her job (deli manager in Corrib Oil, Tuam).
The final gift, Lucy’s baby blanket, represented the bond between mother and daughter.
Fr Murphy expressed the feelings of the entire congregation when he said that ‘you begin to realise how inadequate words really are’ as he looked around at Elaine’s family, friends and colleagues.
“She threw every single fibre of her[self] into getting better, into wanting to live and she never gave up hope, just like Oliver and her family,” said Fr Murphy, who was assisted during the Mass by Fr Michael Gormley, Fr Martin Costello, SMA, Canon Conal Eustace and Elaine’s cousin, Fr Michael Farragher.
“We were so lucky to have Elaine in this world. What a beautiful person. She was beautiful in every sense of that word and also so easy going and kind, so caring, loving, so sensitive and empathetic,” said Fr Murphy.
He also noted another aspect of Elaine’s personality – her bravery and courage. “Her illness brought out another side of Elaine too, she showed us how strong and brave, how willing and patient she was,” he said.
He went on to describe how much family meant to Elaine, and how much she loved her parents, her two big sisters, Sinéad and Lily, and ‘her two small ones’, Ailish and Edel.
“An amazing bond together, never once did they have a falling out, and that is a great tribute to Paddy and Bernie,” said Fr Murphy, adding that Elaine had forgone a modelling contract in Dublin some years ago to stay close to her family.
Fr Murphy talked of the ‘great grá’ that Elaine and husband Ollie had for each other since they met in 2002, and the precious memories they shared in their new house, mentioning one of their favourite days together in Lehinch, when they were in ‘lockdown’ during Storm Ophelia with Lucy and Ollie’s mother, May.
Elaine made a lasting impression on everyone she met, in her unassuming and endearing way. Fr Murphy referred to the doctors and nurses who got to know her during her illness, adding that they were ‘in awe of her spirit’.
“All through [her illness] she was thinking of everybody else, putting everybody else before her so that she could protect them. Isn’t that what real love is? What real courage is?”
Elaine’s brother in-law, Tom Connolly, addressed the congregation at the end of the funeral Mass and paid tribute to Elaine’s ‘strong character’, to the support of family, the efforts of medical professionals, and the support of the community. His sentiments were echoed by a round of applause.
Elaine was laid to rest in Roundfort Cemetery following her funeral Mass. When a robin landed on her final resting place, those in attendance were reminded that she will be forever present in their lives.
She is sadly missed by her parents, Paddy and Bernie; husband, Ollie, and daughter, Lucy; mother-in-law, May; sisters, Sinéad, Lily, Ailish and Edel (London); brothers-in-law, Marc, JP, Thomas, Chris, Tom, Mike, Kevin, Noel and Ray; sisters-in-law, Mary, Assumpta and Ann; uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews; relatives and extended family; neighbours and large circle of friends.