Derrygarve, Westport, Co Mayo and formerly of Leenane, Co Galway
Theresa Dawson passed away suddenly and peacefully at home on March 27, with family by her side.
Theresa was born on February 11, 1930, the youngest of eight children, to John and Mary Kerrigan, in Leenane, Co Galway. She was the last remaining member of her family, having been predeceased by her beloved sister Maud in November 2019.
She grew up overlooking Killary Harbour and had happy memories of a wonderful childhood surrounded by family and friends. Leenane and its people remained close to her heart to the end. Even though her siblings moved to the UK and Dublin, she kept in regular contact by letter, and they visited her in Derrygarve often. Her family were very important to her.
She met her husband Michael (Mick), when he stopped at her house needing water for his car… and the rest is history!
They married in 1956 and set up home in Mick’s home place of Derrygarve, where she was warmly welcomed by her wonderful neighbours. It was quite a change for Theresa, having been used to a busy village, but Mick drove her to Leenane every Sunday to maintain her links with her family and friends. Her good neighbours also helped her settle in. In the days before Whatsapp and even phones, this was a lifeline for her.
Life was very busy in Derrygarve, as they welcomed 11 children to the family: six boys and five girls.
Mick and Theresa both loved children and created a wonderful happy home, which revolved around family, farm-work, school and hobbies. They encouraged all their children in their various pursuits: Irish Dancing, Football, Athletics and Music. Education was important, but, whilst they encouraged, they never pressured, nor compared one sibling to another.
Many of their nephews and nieces enjoyed wonderful holidays in Derrygarve, memories of which have stayed with them to this day. In her later years Theresa acted as childminder for her dear grand-nieces Davina and Danika, and they became honorary grandchildren.
Life dealt Theresa and Mick a harsh blow when they lost their precious son, John, suddenly in 1981, at the age of 21. They were devastated. But, having a young family to rear, they shouldered their burden together and kept going. Heartbroken though they were they ensured John was remembered with love and pride, and he remains a treasured member of the family.
Theresa loved her life in Derrygarve, visits with close neighbours for a cup of tea and a chat, children in and out of each other’s houses and larger get-togethers at Station Masses, Bonfire night and Christmas. She was always there to support anyone going through hard times, including family, neighbours and friends.
She was a woman of many talents. Whilst quiet and unassuming, she excelled at cooking, baking, dressmaking and knitting. With 11 children, she never took a minute for herself. If she wasn’t baking the best apple tarts and treacle cake, she was knitting dresses, ponchos, and jumpers for her family, or making outfits from scratch. She was very creative; many times the girls arrived home to find handmade soft toys and carrycots or their dolls kitted out in newly-stitched outfits.
Theresa loved nature. She was an avid gardener, growing wonderful flowers and vegetables over the years. In her later years she enjoyed watching the birds who flocked to the various bird tables, dotted outside her home. Her love of nature intertwined with her devotion to Our Lady. Flowers were placed outside her door every May eve to welcome Our Lady, and she always had a beautiful May Altar in her kitchen.
Above all else, her strong Faith was central to Theresa’s life. She lived it every day, finding in it solace in times of sorrow and celebration in times of joy. She maintained an hourly vigil every Friday in St Mary’s Church for more than fifteen years, until ill-health prevented her from continuing.
Theresa’s legacy will live on in the people who knew her, especially in her children: Mary, Paddy, Mícheál, Ger, Martina, Breege, Joe, Dermot, Carmel and Bernie; their partners; her 21 grandchildren, and beloved great-grandchild, Joe. She will be greatly missed.
Theresa was laid to rest in Aughagower Cemetery on Sunday, March 29 after a beautiful Funeral Mass, celebrated by Father Charlie Mc Donnell. May her gentle soul rest in peace.