“Ivyhouse”, Thornhill, Westport, Co Mayo
A great sadness passed through the village of Thornhill, Westport and surrounding areas when news of the death of Nonie Gill came through. Nonie died on March 25, 2019, following a short illness, at Mayo University Hospital.
Nonie Gill was born in 1932, the oldest of seven children, to the late Mary and Michael Forde, Cordaragh, Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. Kiltimagh remained dear to her heart for the rest of her life, and she always visited and kept up to date with the local news there. She was educated at St Louis Convent and completed her Leaving Cert through Irish. She went on to successfully complete a ‘Commercial Course’ and she joined Mayo County Council, working as a medical secretary. She loved her job and living in Castlebar and she particularly enjoyed the ‘dances’ there. It was here she met her future husband, Henry Joe, who swept her off her feet and they were married within the year. They were lucky enough to spend the next fifty one years together.
As was the case in those days, Nonie was obliged to leave her job on marriage and so she began her new life in ‘Ivyhouse, Thornhill. Nonie was dedicated to her family and as well as caring for her own twelve children, she also cared for her parents -in-law. Nonie worked hard in the home to care for her children, and both herself and Henry Joe encouraged them in their education and guided them on their career paths. Nonie had a great affiliation with An Garda Síochána, as her three brothers were members of the force, and so she was delighted when five of her own children joined the force, three sons and two daughters, and extremely proud to see them rising through the ranks. She was a woman of great faith and the rosary was a daily recital in ‘Ivyhouse’. An extra decade was added to the previous five on occasions when each of her 39 grandchildren were due! Nothing made her happier than to see her grandchildren visit and she relished the big occasions when we all got together and the house was full.
Despite being so busy at home, Nonie made time to help out in the local community, She served as secretary on the Community Centre Committee. She helped organise ‘Sale of Works’ and ‘Socials’ to raise funds to run Old Folks Parties. Her brown breads and large apple tarts were legendary at these events. Her children were also recruited to help out, passing on the community spirit to them. In recent years, Nonie particularly enjoyed her tea and biscuits with her friends at the Community Centre after Sunday Mass.
Nonie also served on the board of management of Santa Maria College, Louisburgh, where all twelve of her children were educated. She was honoured in recent years with a presentation for her contribution to that board.
A cousin of the family, Fr. Ben Moran, concelebrated Nonie’s Funeral Mass, together with Fr Paddy Gill (Lecanvey), Fr Michéill MacGréill, (Brackloon) and Fr O’ Brien (Abbeyknockmoy) and Fr Kilcoyne (Kiltimagh). Her grandchildren read the lessons and prayers of the faithful and brought up the offertory gifts to the altar. Fr Ben spoke of the many memories he had of Nonie as he spent summer holidays in Thornhill as a young boy. He recalled her kindness, warmth and hospitality to all visitors to ‘Ivyhouse’.
Nonie’s daughter, Patricia, recited a beautiful poem as a reflection, which expressed the many sentiments the family felt about Nonie. Her daughter Claire gave thanks on behalf of the family and spoke in loving terms of the contribution her mother had made. She said “Thanks to Mam’s incredible welcome, warmth and hospitality, ‘Ivyhouse’ was the original ‘hub’ where we all gathered, bringing our friends from school and work, then our boyfriends, girlfriends, our wives, husbands and our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren….Mam welcomed neighbours, relations and friends into ‘Ivyhouse’. She treated everyone the same, with kindness, love and warmth and although we don’t know how she did it, she fed us all with her legendary brown bread and she managed the dinners that she could make stretch to feed 12 or 20…..Mam was always grateful that she had such wonderful neighbours and when they say it takes a village to raise a child, and that was lived out in Thornhill….My mother had many attributes and I could go on and on – but the words we have been hearing to describe her by almost everyone is - ‘she was a lady’. She was indeed a lady and much more”.
Nonie will be very sadly missed by sons Joe (Abbeyknockmoy), John (Malahide), Tom (St Alban’s), Henry (Thornhill), Michael (Thornhill) and Brian (Maynooth); daughters Claire Kearns, (Newtownbutler), Brid O’Malley, (Carabaun), Tina Glackin, (Ballybofey), Patricia O’Dea, (Maynooth), Martina Williamson, (Maynooth) and Deirdre Poillot, (Dunboyne) and brothers Jimmy Forde (Austraila), Hugh Forde (Kiltimagh) and Michael Forde (Dublin).
She is also mourned by sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, great grandchildren, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, other relatives, neighbours and a wide circle of loyal friends. She was predeceased by her husband Henry Joe and their infant son Anthony, as well as by her brothers Seán and Tom and her sister Nancy O Sullivan.
The huge crowd which attended her Funeral Mass bore testament to the esteem in which Nonie was held in the community. She was laid to rest in Murrisk Abbey Cemetery. May her gentle and kind soul rest in peace.