Askelane, Louisburgh, Co Mayo
Eileen Burke was born in Askelane Louisburgh in 1926. She was the youngest child of Martin Burke (Pat) and Mary Burke (née Durkan) Pullgloss.
Eileen was the youngest of eight children. She was predeceased by her brothers,Tommie, William, Patrick, John her sisters Mary, Rose and Ellie. An infant Martin rests in the cilin in Askelane. Mother often described an idyllic childhood. A young life that coupled hard work and simple pleasures wrought from hard times.
In the early forties, she left Askelane for Dublin, in pursuit of employment. There, she met Michael Conway (Mick) from Tourmakeady and the major phase of her life began. Like so many women of that era, marriage and children would define her life’s work. Seven children blessed their union. Although she revelled in the art of motherhood and child rearing, she did sometimes admit her patience was tested.
With the youngest of the children on the cusp of adulthood and the possibility of tranquility returning to her home, Mick suffered a stroke.
The love, kindness and infinite patience hitherto lavished in equal measure on the seven “treasures”, transferred totally to Mick.
The new circumstances prefaced a whole new existence for them. They renovated their house in Carramore, making it their second home. The neighbours welcomed the Askelane native to their village. The idyll of spending as much time as possible in Carramore proved problematic initially. The arrival of more “treasures” in the form of grandchildren led to shortened breaks or wonderful interruptions.
Changes came with time though. As the fourteen grandchildren grew, they spent more time in Carramore. Individually, they cherished their time with “Nana” and Grandad. This was evidenced by the devotion displayed by each one during “Nana’s” final year.
Mick’s death in 1999 robbed her of her soulmate. Family and Friends surrounded her. They encouraged her to adapt to life with Mick’s physical absence. A series of foreign holidays ensued which partially retrieved the lively enthusiasm which was such a strong feature of her personality.
No foreign holiday compared to time spent in the west in the company of children and grandchildren. As the grandchildren grew, they often stayed with their Nana in Dublin. Whether it was attending college or visiting for a TV night or most likely avoiding the probing parental scrutiny of home! !!!. Nana was now advisor, confidante, and trusted collaborator!!!!
Apart from family, Mother’s interests included friends, neighbours, current affairs and shopping. No shop was left unchecked. Her stylish appearance reflected her penchant for colour and latest trends.
The last year of her life beset by illness, brought even more forcefully the calmness, patience, and resilience which had sustained her throughout her life.
Heartbreaking though it was, it provided an opportunity for all of us to repay a fraction of the love, care, attention and kindness we had demanded through the years. We were not alone. The strength and support, both physical and emotional we received from our spouses helped us through the most difficult year. Mother passed away on September 19, 2019. She was in her 94th year.
The loss of a Mother young or old leaves a heartwrenching void. We were fortunate to have Mother’s presence in our lives for so long. In time, the void in our lives will be diminished by the countless memories that install themselves with every mention of her name. Memories governed by Mother’s smile.