Carramore, Liscarney, Westport
Margaret McDonnell passed away peacefully with her family by her side on May 24, 2017. She had suffered a stroke three and half years ago and bore her illness with great dignity and fortitude. She is survived by: her daughters Marian O’Malley (Carrarevaugh), Bridie O’Malley (Carrakennedy), Kathleen Mitchell (Sligo), Peggy McNamara (Carramore), Ann Humphreys (Cork), Julie O’Brien (Dublin), Deirdre Rosenkranz (Westport), Gabrielle O’Hanlon (Carramore), her three sons: Pat McDonnell (Carrarevaugh), Matty McDonnell (Sydney), Noel McDonnell (Carramore), her brothers: Joe (Coventry), Lennie (Cushlough) and by her forty five adoring grandchildren and twenty seven great grandchildren. She was redeceased by her son Kieran who died tragically in 1992 and her beloved husband Michael (Mick) 2007.
Margaret was born in Mayo in 1927 to Kate and Patrick Grimes and at the age of six months moved to Glasgow where she lived until the family returned to Mayo during the war.
She had five brothers Michael (Bristol) Paddy (Coventry) and Francey (Keecuil) all deceased, Joe (Coventry) and Lennie (Cushlough).
In her twenties she met Mick McDonnell. She used to cycle to Westport daily to work as a clerk in the Westport brewery. Mick used to hide chocolate and boiled sweets in the stone wall near his home for her to pick up on her way home from work. They married and were blessed with twelve children. As a couple they had a loving relationship and always took time out together to meet friends for songs, conversation and fun. They loved to sing and at the removal so many people recounted the great nights in Murrisk Abbey and Sargie Hobans and in friends’ houses socialising and enjoying a sing song.
Mick was a small building contractor and between them and with Lennie’s help they made every block that went into their new home. Every block was pressed and dried daily until the house was built, a great achievement. Rearing and clothing twelve children was never going to be easy but Margaret was an accomplished seamstress (a skill self acquired out of necessity) and she managed to find the time to make beautiful clothes especially for the girls. As children we never wanted for anything because if she couldn’t sew it or knit it, she could make it or bake it or on the odd occasion when needs arose she could fake it. She was quite a genius with her hands.
She was an active member of the Cushlough Community, and fundraised avidly to build the centre .It was here that she played cards on a weekly basis. She was not a great card player but that did not stop her hitting the jackpot on a few occasions (albeit with a little help from her friends).
Although always a stay at home mother, she was an entrepreneur also. She was always thinking up ways to make more money to provide a better life for the family. She was a lovely knitter and specialised in Aran sweaters which she sold from her home to people from across the globe. She loved meeting the tourists and chatting with them. In more recent years she provided fishing permits to fishermen for Moher Lake. She was loved by many of these fishermen and in her illness they sometimes came with flowers. One lovely gentleman christened her ‘Lady of the Lake’ and indeed she was a lady.
She loved her style; she had few airs but many graces. She loved the simple life and loved to attend mass on a regular basis. She had an unwavering faith in God.
Probably the thing that kept her young was that she was always great ‘to go’. One mention of visiting, going to town, or just going for a spin and she would simply say ‘where’s my lipstick” and she was off.
We have been so blessed to have had this amazing, kind, generous and fun loving person as our mother. In these past few weeks since her death the outpouring of love for her and the support which we received would have humbled her greatly.
She was waked at her own home for two nights and reposed at Cushlough Community Centre where hundreds queued for hours to pay tribute. Her removal took place from her home on Friday morning to the church of the Sacred Heart Cushlough. Her grandson Ciaran welcomed nanny into her church for the last time singing her favourite song ‘These are my Mountains’. The funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr Jackie Conroy, Fr Micheál McGreal and Fr Kieran Burke. During his homily, Fr Jackie referred to Margaret as “an ordinary woman, who did extraordinary things”. Margaret was laid to rest with her son Kieran and husband Mick in the family plot. Her beautiful memory will live in our hearts forever.