Lettera, Ballycroy, Westport, Co Mayo
There was shock and a shroud of sadness in Ballycroy at the news of the untimely death of Stephen Grealis in Mayo University Hospital on Thursday, January 17, 2019.
Stephen was the middle child of a family of nine children, born on December 18, 1947 to Bernie and Nora (née O’Boyle) Grealis in Claggan, two boys and seven girls. He moved with his parents and siblings to Lettera in 1953 after his father bought the farm there.
Stephen loved sports and he represented Ballycroy at darts and played gaelic football with Ballycroy GAA Club, but it was at tug-o’-war where he excelled and won All-Ireland medals in the 1980s with his friends that he had grown up with from the locality.
Stephen was a hard-working man, and worked with the ESB and mobile sheep dipping unit in the 1970s, he also worked in England in the early eighties before he started with Bord na Mona and was employed there for over twenty years. He loved nothing better than a trip to the bog with a gang of grandchildren in toe to help him. But the job he loved the most was working the land and improving his farm. He took great pride in his cattle and sheep and was a regular exhibitor at sheep shows throughout Mayo, Connemara and Sligo and he had huge success with his blackface rams down through the years.
His pride and joy on the farm was his cattle, he loved the spring time when the young calves would arrive and always looked forward to a day at the mart. He was really proud, that his love for his cows has passed on to his grandsons, he had great chats with them in the slatted shed, and the wisdom he has passed onto them will be of great benefit to them in the years to come.
Stephen met the love of his life Sarah O’Boyle from Newport and they were married on June 12, 1974. They had a tough start to married life when their twin sons died at childbirth, however they were blessed with four more children - Noreen, Stephen, Annamarie and Michael. Stephen and Sarah were a match made in heaven and enjoyed over forty four of marriage, making a lot of wonderful memories and friends along the way. Stephen was delighted to see his children settle down and start their own families and the joy that his 13 grandchildren brought to him was a wonderful sight. He taught them so much, it would be fair to say that he put them all walking, when he would see them crawling, he would lift them up and say “come on it’s time to take your first steps”. He always liked playing cards and he spent many a winter’s night teaching his grandchildren the art of card playing. He taught the older children to drive, starting with the tractor and then his jeep. He had great faith in his grandchildren and for the last year or so he would sit in the passenger seat and let the youth take over. It was a fitting tribute to him when his grandson Bryan drove the hearse on his final journey from Lettera to the church.
When it comes to friends Stephen had plenty, whether it was his wonderful neighbours in Lettera and Claggan or throughout Ballycroy to different parts of Ireland and overseas. The touching stories told to the family since Stephen’s passing showed his popularity along with the huge crowds that paid their respects in the family home and attended his funeral Mass, this meant so much to his family.
Stephen was predeceased by his twin sons, parents Bernie and Nora and his sisters Celina and Lily. He is dearly loved and sorely missed by his wife Sarah, his family Noreen McManamon (Claggan), Stephen (Lettera), Annamarie Doherty (Balla) and Michael (Claggan), his sons-in-law Sean McManamon and Walter Doherty, daughters-in-law Noreen and Caroline and thirteen grandchildren Shane, Stephen, Rachel, Bryan, Sorcha, Emma, Colm, Micheal, Dylan, Ava, Rian, Sadhbh and Réitlín. His brother Patrick and sisters Bridie, Mary Jo, Noreen, Irene and Una, sister-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and a wide circle of friends.
May he now rest eternally in the presence of the Lord where contentment replaces doubt and where pain is replaced by eternal happiness and peace.
“To the world he was just a part, but to us he was all the world.”
May his gentle soul rest in peace.