The Octagon, Westport
Kathleen passed away peacefully, though unexpectedly, at her home on The Octagon, on July 29 2017, aged 82. Her death leaves an unfillable void at the heart of her family life, a bright, beaming, endlessly loving presence, which they shall miss every day. Kathleen was a paragon of motherhood: warm, patient, forgiving, utterly selfless, exercised only by concern for the welfare of her family. Her focus was always on the other, never on herself; whenever someone asked how she was, she would almost interrupt to say: ‘But you’re feeling well, aren’t you?’ Her infectiously happy and optimistic personality was grounded in an unwavering faith in the goodness of God, and she did, to the best of her ability, as Our Lord decreed: to ‘love one another as I have loved you’. These qualities were only amplified in her declining years, her purity of spirit becoming ever-more apparent.
Kathleen’s outer beauty was always present in her eyes and in her smile. During her repose and at her funeral, so many people recalled, with emphasis, how beautiful she was when she first came to Westport. Her natural sense of style was ever-present.
Born in Cloongee, near Foxford, in August 1934, Kathleen was the twelfth of Patrick and Bridget Ruane’s thirteen children. From her family, whom she loved so deeply, she gained, amongst many other gifts, a strong sense of nationalism and a lifelong grá for the Irish language; to the end, mental arithmetic was done as Gaeilge. From school in Cloongee and St Mary’s, Swinford, Kathleen spent a few years in a secretarial job in England. In 1957, to be closer to home, she took a job as manageress of Mrs Browne’s Fashion Shop, on Shop Street, Westport.
On the steps of the Bank of Ireland, on the North Mall, one day, she met John Kelly from the Octagon. Although she moved to Dublin in 1960, to take a position in Arnott’s, the courtship continued. Kathleen and John were married in Roundfort Church on St Stephen’s Day 1963, although the occasion was bittersweet, as Kathleen’s father had passed away only three days previously. Their life together over the next 52 years was happy and faith-filled; they were hard workers whose focus was always upon their children. Kathleen’s idea, pursued with characteristic purposefulness, to open a craft shop, gave a new lease of life to the family business. There, and later in the coffee shop, Kathleen made countless friends - locals and tourists, people who came back time-and-again to see her. Her sincere and animated welcome and genuine friendliness made a deep impression on a great many visitors to Westport.
In a profound and moving homily at Kathleen’s funeral Mass, her brother-in-law, Fr Patrick Kelly, spoke of how Kathleen’s extraordinary qualities were displayed in the most ordinary facets of her home-life: her devotion to her family, her selflessness, her hard work.
“Such extraordinariness can,” he said, “go entirely unnoticed; we live beside it every day, but rarely recognise it. Greatness is not in achievements, it is in daily goodness, and by that measure Kathleen’s was a great life.”
Kathleen’s faith was essential to her. A member in her younger days of the Legion of Mary and the Third Order of St Francis, she robustly but compassionately defended Catholic principles all her life. Her prayer book and rosary beads were never out of reach, her veneration of sacred imagery a daily ritual, her prayers for her family, immediate and extended, morning, noon and night, were comprehensive, fervent and confident.
Following repose at home, Kathleen’s Requiem Mass was concelebrated in St Mary’s Church, Westport on August 1 by Rev Patrick Kelly SPS, Rev Micheál MacGréil, Rev Anthony King, Rev Ger Burns, Rev Charlie MacDonnell, assisted by Rev Gerard Quirke (deacon); unavoidably absent was Kathleen’s brother-in-law, Canon James Kelly. Kathleen was laid to rest in Aughagower Cemetery, beside her beloved John, whom she had missed so much since his passing, eighteen months previously. Kathleen is survived by her daughters Marie (USA), Eileen (Dublin), Jane (London) and Susan (Westport); her son, James (Westport); sisters Nancy Rainey (Straide), Teresa Campbell (Mullingar) and Mairéad Ní hÉanna (An Spidéal); sons-in-law Mike Barrett and Seán Tierney; grandchildren Eileen Barrett and Frances Tierney; brothers-in-law Roibeárd Ó hÉanna (An Spidéal), Canon James Kelly (Tooreen) and Fr Patrick Kelly SPS (Drogheda); nephews, nieces, extended family and a wide circle of friends.
In the words of one of her favourite prayers, to Our Lady of Knock, Kathleen was, all her life, a pilgrim on the road to Heaven.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.