The death has taken place of Vincent McDermott, Carrabawn, Westport, at Mayo University Hospital on November 18, 2017. He is survived by his wife Julie; children Fintan, Cathal, Anna, Clare and Sarah; daughter -in-law Bridgeen; grandchildren Freya and Evie; brothers, sisters and many nephews and nieces. Vincent hailed from Strokestown, Co Roscommon and had lived in Westport since 1970.
Chief celebrant of the Mass, Fr Charlie McDonnell, spoke of Vincent as a true gentleman and an inspirational teacher. He described him as an educator ahead of his time.
Fr Charlie was assisted by Fr Tony King who had known Vincent for many years, and by Fr Pàraic Kelly, SMA, a former classmate of Vincent’s.
Vincent’s family and friends paid tribute to a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle through their participation in the mass, offering symbols of what enriched his life: his family, literature, music and drama, sport, and a game of cards. His grandchild and her cousins carried posies to the altar to give thanks for his love of children and his ability to connect with them. At the end of the Mass his daughter, Anna read a poem written by her Dad called ‘The Last Class’.
The beautiful liturgy was greatly enhanced by the church choir, accompanied by the Teachers choir. During the Mass, prayers were offered for all families affected by Alzheimer’s disease; for Home Helps, Nurses and all medical staff; for his family, friends and neighbours who supported the family throughout the illness, in particular Vincent’s brother, Noel and Julie’s sister Barbara and her husband Sean.
As the coffin was taken from the church, a guard of honour was formed by his former teaching colleagues and the students from the Sacred Heart Secondary school.
At his funeral Mass, Vincent’s wife Julie spoke of his valiant battle with Alzheimer’s disease but emphasised that he did not allow it to rob him of his sense of humour, his wit or his great love of people. He was cared for by his family for 15 years and then found safe haven and comfort in the MacBride home in the final stage of his illness.
Julie explained that his wish was that people would be more aware and open about Alzheimer’s disease which robbed him of all his faculties and functions, one by one, painful step by step. While it would be wrong to attempt to sugar-coat the bewilderment, isolation and pain of the disease, there are many ways of enhancing the quality of life and care for the sufferer. Vincent wore his illness very well and with great patience and humour and did not allow it to take his spirit and he was the soul of the family, right to his last breath. He continued to appreciate company, music poetry, colour and beauty. When words left him he communicated with his perpetual smile, with hand gestures and his eyes became the mirrors of his soul. When he no longer had words or even knew where he was, he expressed his appreciation by raising his hands in thanks to the Lord.
Julie said it was important to pull back the dark curtain of Alzheimer’s and remember, celebrate and give thanks for all of Vincent’s life because his belief was that he had a great life.
He had precious memories of being brought up as one of a family of 12 in Strokestown and many of his lifelong friendships evolved from his childhood. He loved every minute of his 30 year teaching career in the Sacred Heart Secondary School, enjoying the friendship and support of The Sisters of Mercy, his many teaching colleagues and his thousands of students.
He considered his best work to be the raising of his five children, finding his special calling as a truly amazing husband and father. He felt that his home in Carrabawn was his Paradise; he loved nothing more than seeing the children, cousins and neighbours at play on the football pitch he made for them.
Julie paid particular tribute to the many young people, friends of the children, who continued to visit their home regularly and show great understanding of Vincent as well as many past students who were a great source of consolation to Vincent and Julie as the encountered them at all stages of the illness. Their shared admiration and faith in young people was richly rewarded. May Vincent have peaceful rest.