Carrowbaun, and the MacBride Home, Westport
There was a great sadness in Westport as the news travelled of the passing of Bridget McGreal, a popular and well known woman in the town. Bridget passed away peacefully in the MacBride Home on Thursday night, March 8. She died on the feast day of ‘Saint John of God’ and also ‘International Women’s Day’, which befitted a person of immense kindness and unshakeable faith. Bridget was 93 years of age and was, indeed, a great woman.
Bridget McGreal (nee Seoighe) was born on November 25, 1924, to her parents, the late Bartley Joyce and Bridget Joyce (nee O’Brien) in the beautiful and picturesque village of Maamtrasna, Tourmakeady, mapped on one side by the majestic Lough Mask and overshadowed on the other by the striking and mystical mountain known locally as ‘Scoltach’.
Bridget was the second eldest of seven children; she was pre-deceased by her four brothers Sonny, Mike, John and Peter. Her younger brother Martin lives in London and her only sister Mary still lives in Tourmakeady.
Irish was Bridget’s first language but she also spoke English fluently. She went to school in Maamtrasna where she was popular and forged life-long friendships. Bridget later attended Catering School in Claremorris where she became an accomplished cook and baker. Bridget was only nineteen years old when her mother sadly lost her battle with cancer and died at the young age of 42. Bridget stayed at home to help her father raise her younger siblings. This was rural Ireland in the forties which could not have been easy but even as a young woman, her metal like her faith, was strong.
Whilst in her twenties, Bridget moved to Birmingham where she first worked in ‘Yardleys’ perfume factory and then later as a bus conductor in Birmingham City. Better job prospects brought Bridget to London where she stayed with her aunt Ellen. She got a job on the catering side of things in the ‘Mother Black Cap’, a well-known and very popular Irish pub in Camden Town. While working in Camden Town, she met her husband to be, John McGreal (Porky), a native of Westport.
Bridget and John got married in the early fifties and had three children Marie, Johnny and Roger who were born in Parkhurst Road, London. They remained in London for a few more years until they moved back to Westport after purchasing a house at No 7 Pearse Terrace, on the Quay Road. They felt there would be a better quality of life for their children in Ireland, particularly Johnny, who was Down’s syndrome. Following their return to Westport, they had two more children, Ann and Shay. Bridget was a real family woman and was at her happiest and most content when looking after her family and home.
Bridget was a kind-hearted, generous and pleasant woman that made good friends and great neighbours both in the Cottages and later in Carrowbaun. She was an earthy woman that loved every living creature including her cat and dogs; she also loved to feed the wild birds that were regular visitors to the garden she loved. Bridget was a knowledgeable woman and her faith was of the utmost importance in her life. She had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and said the Rosary daily (as Gaeilge). Bridget was never seen in the shops, at Mass, bingo or anywhere without her beloved son Johnny by her side. He went everywhere with her because she understood better than anyone his gentle nature and special ways. Bridget loved music and was a fan of Daniel O’Donnell, Big Tom, Elvis and Brendan Shine. She was frequently heard in the kitchen singing along happily to ‘do you want your old lobby washed down’ whenever it was played on the radio.
After nearly 25 happy years living at Pearse Terrace, John and Bridget moved to a new bungalow at Carrowbaun in 1987, where they lived contented until 2007. It was always her dream to live in the countryside once more where she had ample space for her pets and she felt closer to nature. Carrowbaun was ideal for her son Johnny too who also loved the bigger gardens and country setting.
In 2007, John, Bridget and her son Johnny moved to an Apartment at No 1 The Arches in Newport. A few months later, they moved again to a bungalow at No 10 Acres Grove on the Mulranny Road, Newport where they remained until February 2011. During this period of time, Bridget suffered, among other things, the sad loss of both her beloved son Johnny who passed away in 2008 and her husband John who passed away in February of 2011. Following the death of her husband in 2011, Bridget moved to Abbey Breaffy Nursing Home, Turlough, Castlebar where she resided for approximately twelve months. In early 2012, Bridget returned to her beloved Westport where she took up residence in the MacBride Nursing Home. Bridget resided in the MacBride Nursing Home for the remaining six years of her life.
Bridget was laid to rest in Aughavale Cemetery on March 11, 2018, how befitting for a wonderful mother to be buried on Mothers Day. She now rests in peace with her beloved son Johnny once more by her side.
“Among her earthiest words the Angels strayed.” God rest her kind and gentle soul.