On Thursday, March 15, Michael Joe Mullarkey passed away peacefully in Mayo General Hospital with his family by his bedside following a short illness.The youngest of two sons, Michael Joe was born to Alfred and Katie Mullarkey on April 29, 1929, in Gortawarla, Newport.
He married his wife Nora (nee Griffin) in February 1981 and together they created a loving home for all their children.
He spent all his life in Gortawarla. He attended Rossduane School until the age of 12 and then he began farming at home and for the Keanes in the village. Michael Joe loved farming and working the land. In his early years he reclaimed the land with only his horse and plough and as times moved on he continued to work the land on his trusty Massey 35x, which he was ever so proud of. Farming was in Michael Joe’s blood. He reared dairy cattle all his life and sold milk to Connacht Gold for years. He grew potatoes and vegtables up until recently. He was always very self-sufficient.
He enjoyed working in the bog, cutting turf with his sleán while he was able, and his children have fond memories of days spent on the bog saving the turf, but especially of stopping at Reids on the way home for a coke, while dad enjoyed a well-deserved pint after a long day.
He lived a simple, happy life with his wife Nora and family in Gortawarla until his passing. Yet, he suffered his fair share of hard times over the years, losing his first wife, Nora McIntyre of Derrycooldrim, mother of Michael, Tom and Geraldine to illness. He also lost his son Tom tragically at a young age and he was also predeceased by his brother Patrick.
Michael Joe was never afraid of work and his hard work of quarrying stone from the hill and building the family home with a blockmaker he hired is proof of that. In the days since his passing, many the memory has been shared with the family of Michael Joe building the family home. As a young man he worked as a labourer at PJ Kellys. He also worked in the seaweed factory in Newport and with Mayo County Council on the roads. But farming always was his main passion and he continued to take great interest in the farm, even after he was no longer fit for the work himself. The boys would always keep him updated and ask his advice. He understood the land upon which he grew from boy to man, he had a vast knowledge of farming and nature in general. He took great pride in his native place and looked forward to the regular visits from relations in America, to whom he would proudly show the beauty of Gortawarla and surrounding areas.
He loved to socialise and would travel to dances all across the county and country in his early years and would often recall the dances at the Halfway House and beyond. In later years he enjoyed a quiet pint on a Sunday night in Christy McNulty’s in Newport. He loved music and was a keen listener of RTÉ Radio 1 and Mid West right up until his passing.
He was a great story teller and loved to recall the good old days and the craic that was had. He had many interesting stories about the Great Snow in 1947 and of seeing the last train passing as a young boy on Westport to Achill railway line in 1937.
He loved the craic and the company of his people. He adored his grandchildren and would burst into life when they came through the kitchen door. In recent years, he enjoyed a more relaxed style of life, with his daily walks on the greenway with his dog Jezz, who would be waiting at the door for him with a smile as big as his own.
Michael Joe was a man of great faith who prayed every morning and night all his life. He was modest man, who touched the hearts of so many people who knew him. He will be missed but with so many memories he will never be forgotten.
He is survived by his loving wife Nora (nee Griffin) and his children Michael, Geraldine, Alan, John, Pat, Kathleen, Marie, Alfred, Declan, Aoife and James; daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, sisters-in-law, brother-in-laws, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren and all his relations and friends near and far. Funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr Jim Walsh, PP. Michael Joe was laid to rest in Myna cemetery.
In iothlainn Dé go dtugtar sinn.