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Margaret McHale

Ross East, Castlebar
MARGARET McHale, Ross East, Castlebar, who died recently, was a true institution in that lovely part of Mayo which lies not far from Pontoon.
Formerly Lavelle from Breaffy, Margaret was born in the historic year of 1916 at a time when Ireland was still under British rule. She grew up listening to many stories from that eventful decade which was to change the course of Irish history.
In 1946, she married Michael McHale from Ross and they raised a family of four, three sons and a daughter. The next six decades of her life were spent in Ross among the people she came to know so well.
Immersed in the culture of the rural west, Margaret helped Michael with every aspect of the farm as well as their country shop, while also taking good care of the home and ensuring the best for their family. In the late 1960s, she went to work in Mayo General Hospital where she made many new friends and enjoyed her years in the county town.
Visitors to the family home always received the height of welcome and hospitality and Margaret’s renowned culinary and cooking skills became legendary over the years. Neighbours who dropped by to do their shopping were treated to a cup of tea and were always made feel at ease and at home.
The McHale home was also a great meeting place for card players and many were the memorable gatherings and nights of laughter and chat that took place beneath that roof.
Céilí dancing, country music, card playing and bingo were among her special hobbies and interests and all of them brought her much delight and contentment over the decades.
Of a deeply religious nature, Margaret was closely associated with the church life of her parish where she was a long time member of the Altar Society and the Choir. She also recited the rosary in Crimlin church for many years.
Her deep and abiding faith and strong devotion to the Sacred Heart were reflected in her commitment to many church activities. She travelled on pilgrimage to Lourdes on 11 occasions while also attending Knock Shrine on a regular basis. She undertook the July climb of the Reek a few times as well as the Lough Derg pilgrimage in Co Donegal.
A staunch member of the PTAA, she was a strong believer in the ethos and aims of the Pioneers and was honoured with both the silver and gold pins. In 2004, she was the recipient of the prestigious Fr James Cullen Medal in appreciation of her loyalty to the pioneers over the previous 67 years.
Margaret was truly one of the lovely “old stock” of the Ross region. She was a lady who commanded great regard and affection and who made a valuable contribution to the community life of the place she loved so well. She died peacefully at her residence, surrounded by all her family, just as she would have wished for all her life. She had run the good race. May she now rest in peace.
The large crowds at the funeral ceremonies were truly reflective of the regard and respect in which she was held throughout the community. A wake was held in the family home and removal took place from her residence to Crimlin Church with burial in Turlough Cemetery after Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr Benny McHale.
Margaret, who was predeceased by her husband Michael, is deeply regretted by her sons David (Curragh, Castlebar), Pat (Ross) and Gerry (Belcarra), daughter Nora (Ross), daughters-in-law Olivia, Marian and Nuala, son-in-law Tom, grandchildren Aisling, Zita, Ruth, Evin, Alicia, Alan, Edel, Michael, great-grandchild Lauren, sister Ann (USA), sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and friends.