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Crossing the fields to her final resting place


FINAL JOURNEY Due to the inclement weather last week, Bridget Madden had to be brought to her final resting place in Teampelin Na Leacha cemetery, close to Lough Mask, by this alternative mode of transport. Pic courtesy of: Mary Feerick

Willie McHugh

Bridget Madden (nee Philbin) had seen lots of the sunsets of ninety summers. But as the final credits of 2017 rolled she passed away peacefully in Friars Lodge Nursing Home, Ballinrobe. It was there she whiled away her last few years.
But during her stay she never forgot her native village. “Is there any news from Rahard?” was her first inquiring off those who visited or the nursing home staff who cared for her. She had other plans too. “I’m going home tomorrow” was her regular daily saying.
Her needs were simple. A wish of hers was to be buried in Teampelin Na Leacha cemetery close to Lough Mask on the shoreline of Cushlough. Her parents were buried there as was her sister Sabina who died only a few years ago.
On Wednesday, Bridget Madden’s entreaty was finally granted. As was part of her other bidding to ‘come home to Rahard tomorrow’. After her funeral Mass in St Mary’s Church, Ballinrobe, the hearse carrying her remains took a detour and journeyed around by Rahard, pausing momentarily at her village homestead. It was a poignant gesture by way of an acknowledging nod to her unfullfilled desire.
From there to Teampelin na Leacha the cortege travelled. Set well back from the road and secluded as it is, the latter stage to this ancient burial ground is only accessible by crossing a field. Due to the heavy rainfall of previous days it wasn’t possible for the hearse to negotiate this phase of the journey.
But a good undertaker will always find a way and Eugene O’Malley, with the assistance of Bridget’s friends and neighbours, carried out to the full the task he was charged with. Bridget Philbin’s coffin was placed in a a covered-in trailer and towed by a tractor.
The funeral party sidled in and sat alongside. Sheltered from the elements they accompanied her on the last few roods across a green pasture. Within walking distance of the burial plot four pall-bearers from the hamlet took her remains off the make-do carriage and conveyed her to her chosen place of lasting rest.
The whole occurence was conducted in a dignified and solemn manner. The alternative mode of transport was the only possible way of ensuring her final request was granted. And with it an embellishing to make for a good telling. In her passing she created her own bit of news from Rahard. Taking a coffin from a hearse and placing it in a trailer. She’d have enjoyed hearing a story like that from any of her visitors.
Bridget Philbin is now at home for all tomorrows.


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