Ballinvoy, Aughagower, Westport
Michael (Duggie) Derrig passed away after a brief illness in the early hours of the September 30, 2018 at University College Hospital, Galway surrounded by his wife and family.
Michael was born on the March 10, 1969 to parents Padraic and Kathleen, the third youngest sibling to Martin, Mary and Pauline. Sadly, Michael’s dad died suddenly when Michael was just 11 years old. Michael spent his childhood years growing up in Sandyhill on the outskirts of Westport, where he spent many happy days playing and having fun with his neighbours.
A couple of years later the family relocated to Celtic Court, the Quay where Michael grew into his teenage years. It was at the Quay that Michael got to know and made many lifelong friends. Michael started his schooldays in the Convent of Mercy on Altamount Street before moving to the Christian Brothers’ Primary and Secondary Schools on the Newport Road. During the long summer holidays ,Michael spent many long and happy days helping out his uncle and cousins and siblings on the Derrig family farm in Mountbrown ,which was a hive of activity.
It was at that time that Michael learned to drive the tractor years before he was legally old enough to do so. Michael wasn’t a great lover of the school books, and when an option came of a summer job helping out Christy Cawley on the Costello & McDermott truck, Michael jumped at the it.
Michael spent the next seven years of his 33 years service with the company as a helper, before moving up the ranks and becoming a lorry driver, and one of the best salesmen ever to work for the company. In his 33 years of service, Michael only missed two days off due to an injury he received, which was some achievement. As a friend of Michael once said: “He was the smallest biggest truck driver around.”
Michael married Fidelma (née Beirne) from County Leitrim on September 14, 2001, many years after he first met her whilst she was working in the Westport Woods Hotel, while making a delivery. The following years they were blessed with a beautiful daughter Amy, followed in 2006 by their second beautiful daughter, Nadine to complete the family.
Michael was very proud of his two girls and there were the apple of his eye. When Michael was going about his daily duties and talking to people, there was rarely a time the girls’ names did not come into the conversation. During a eulogy by his nephew Colin at Michael’s funeral Mass, he recalled finding a Father’s Day card in Michael’s house from Nadine, describing her dad in seven words: funny, always there, trustworthy, honest, ever-loving, righteous and supportive. Michael was a fun-loving character and always had that cheeky grin on the side of his face, ready to blackguard somebody along the way.
Michael enjoyed reading, watching TV, socialising with family and friends at the weekend, and listening to music. He was always generous with his time and gifts. No birthday passed by for a family member, nieces or nephews, that he wasn’t there on the day with a present. Michael was a family man who loved to visit his family and would never miss a family occasion.
Michael was always there for his customers too, his door was always open and his phone was always on. Nothing was too much bother for him. If he received a call on a Saturday night or a Sunday evening it was no bother, he would deliver goods to a restaurant or shop who had run short. This, in turn, was reflected in the number of people who visited him at home during his illness and all who phoned, sent text messages, get-well cards offering him encouragement and support.
Michael was diagnosed with a critical illness on the February 16 last, which turned his life upside down. However, he accepted the cards he was dealt and hoped for the best. He started his chemotherapy treatment and took one day at a time, never complaining ‘why me’! Whenever he was asked how he was feeling the reply was always, ‘not too bad’.
Things started to look up for Michael following a scan towards the end of August, when his consultant informed him that the tumour had stabilised and that there was no need for any further treatment for the next three months. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse and Michael became ill again. The tumour was growing rapidly again. Michael spent his last two-and-a-half weeks in University College Hospital, Galway, where he was made comfortable as possible by the Palliative Care team and treated with the utmost respect and dignity by the doctors and nursing staff. However, Michael’s condition deteriorated on Thursday and he lost the battle for life in the early house of Sunday morning, September 30.
Michael’s remains were waked in the family home in Ballinvoy, where huge crowds came to pay their final respects to Michael’s wife Fidelma and family. The popularity of the deceased and his family was evident as people filed past his coffin for over five hours, one of the largest funerals seen in the region for some time.
Michael’s remains were removed from his home the following morning after prayers were recited by Fr Micheál Mac Gréil, prior to the funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Aughagower. In a fitting tribute to Michael, the truck in which he spent so much of his working life, led the hearse carrying Michael’s remains, and was driven by his nephew Keith, accompanied by his other nephews Colin and Luke. As a mark of respect to a dear colleague, the offices of Costello & McDermott shut down for the day and colleagues formed a guard of honour as the hearse carrying Michael’s remains arrived into the village of Aughagower.
Michael’s remains were received into the church by Fr Britus, PP, Aughagower. Mass was concelebrated by Fr Britus, Fr Micheál Mac Gréil, Fr Charlie McDonnell, Fr Tony King and Fr PJ Nyland, Maynooth. Gifts were brought to the altar by Michael’s life-long friends symbolising Michael’s love of Westport, his work and his family. Family members done the readings and Prayers of the Faithful. Bread and wine was brought to the altar by his brother Martin and sister Pauline. The beautiful music during the funeral Mass was sung by soloists Des Cafferkey, Catriona Grady and Naoimi Derrig, accompanied by the students from Knockrooskey National School.
Towards the end of the Mass, Michael’s nephew Colin gave a eulogy which summed up Michael’s life. As Michael’s coffin was leaving the church to his final resting place ‘Rock ’n Roll Kids’ was sung, just as it was on the day Michael’s and Fidelma’s wedding day, seventeen years previously.
Michael’s coffin was carried shoulder high by his family and friends to his final resting place in the new cemetery in Aughagower, accompanied by a guard of honour from Westport GAA Club. As Michael’s coffin was lowered into the grave, Des Cafferkey gave a final rendition on the tin whistle.
Michael is survived by his wife Fidelma, daughters Amy and Nadine, brother Martin (Clogher, Claremorris), sisters Mary Gibbons (Ballinvoy) and Pauline Carmichael (Derrada, Newport), mother-in-law Mary Beirne, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, cousins and many friends. May his gentle soul rest in peace.