Gortfahy, Ardagh, Newport, Co Mayo
October 7, 2017 aged 80 years.
Pre deceased by her husband Martin and grandson Francis.
Deeply regretted by sons John, Tom, Marty and Joe, daughters Mary and Peggy, daughters-in-law Teresa, Sharon, Martina and Marie, son-in-law Martin and her 13 grandchildren.
Eileen was born to Tommy and Maggie Fergus on April 24 1937. As an only child, she grew up in Gortfahy working hard alongside her mother, father and grandfather on the family farm. Her mother Maggie was a beautiful, skilled seamstress and passed her many talents in knitting, dressmaking, quilting, fine lace and crochet to Eileen, which was a great hobby of hers all through her life. Eileen attended the local National School in Derradda where she made lifelong friends.
In 1957 she married Marty, the son of John and Annie Moran Roskeen on a very early, quiet day in late June. Marty spent most of his time travelling the roads of Mayo in his lorry working hard buying and selling turf, hay, gravel and anything else that people wanted moved. Eileen stayed at home running the family farm as well as knitting Aran sweaters to generate some extra family income.
Eileen never liked being an only child and to her delight they soon welcomed four boys followed quickly, to their relief, by two girls! The arrival of the girls on the scene wasn’t greeted with excitement by the lads and so Fr Mc Elin (RIP), the then Parish Priest, threatened to bring them into Mrs Kelly in Newport to get four dresses made for them!
Faith and the weekly Mass attendance were Eileen’s foundation. In her earlier years, she cycled daily to Lenten Mass and on reek Sunday, alongside her good friends, she cycled to the reek, climbed it and cycled home to do the farm chores afterwards.
Over the years Eileen continued her great interest in community activities and when her great friends Cecily and Synie moved back to the village in the late 70’s, a lifelong friendship and partnership developed. In 1978, with the help of family friends Kay and Gerald McDonald and the local community, they built the ‘Houseen’, a craft shop, tearoom and cottage industry where locals could produce crafts and knitwear which were then sold to passing tourists. All foods sold in the tea room were home baked and the challenge was getting them out of the kitchen quick enough to stop children getting hold of them before the tourists! Trips to far flung places around Ireland in search of crafts would become common place for Eileen and Cecily and the resulting stories of encounters with locals were legendary. The Houseen became the life centre of the community and an important outlet for elderly neighbours to get their groceries and keep in touch with each other. While the recession in later years made the shop unviable, Eileen continued to stock the essentials in her home for the neighbours who could not easily travel to Newport for their shopping.
In 1978 Eileen and her neighbours organised a protest committee to try and prevent the closure of the local National School in Derradda and while their efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful, they laid the foundations for the creation of the now vibrant community centre in Derradda. Drama, meetings, card games and Bingo were all organised as fundraisers to purchase the building. The most successful activity was, and still is, to this day, the Tuesday night Ceili where people travel from far and near to attend. The original musicians who joined forces to form the Ceili band included Rose Nixon RIP, Joe Keane RIP, Mick Conway RIP and Dominick O Grady as well as many others who played for the dancers who in later years created the Derradda set. The kitchen crew was manned by Eileen, Cecily, Mary and many others down through the years.
The Moran house was always a hive of activity and Marty and Eileen welcomed all who stopped at the door day or night. Everyone from neighbours, tourists, campers, hitch hikers, car break downs and delivery men were all welcomed and given tea and food. Eileen had a great sense of humour and while she never wanted to be in the limelight, she was the life and soul of every gathering. Eileen and Marty were great parents, but they were the best grandparents. All grandchildren were sure of loving hugs and support, whether in the right or the wrong. No matter how bad things were, a piece of Nana’s toast and some wine gums always seem to make things right.
In recent years, when Eileen lost her speech she found her singing voice and brought a smile to all who visited her in Abbeybreaffy Nursing Home. We are sincerely grateful to all the wonderful staff of the home past and present who helped make her time there as comfortable as possible. Thanks to Fr Declan Carroll for his continued visits and masses and to the many people who visited her in this time especially Rita, Patrick, Eileen, Marie, Esther, Sr Carmel and her “sisters” Rita, Kathleen and Rosaleen.
Eileen was a very hard working farmer, business woman, neighbour and community member, always the first to offer help to whomever needed. You were the most wonderful, loving, generous, warm daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend and relation anyone could ask to meet. You are our blanket. You were and always will be the cornerstone of our families. We dearly love and miss you.
“Go to Sleep Nana and be free of the Alzheimer’s” Conor.