Mullagh, Kilsallagh, Westport
Michael passed away at his home on November 24, 2020. Michael was in the midst of fighting his fourth and final battle with cancer when he passed away unexpectedly and peacefully with his wife Carmel by his side. His funeral Mass was held in St Patrick’s Church, Lecanvey on November 27, followed by burial in Kilgeever Cemetery. Despite the funeral taking place during the height of the Covid-19 restrictions, his family, friends and local community still ensured that Michael had the special send off he deserved. Michael was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother and an avid community man. But to those that loved and knew Michael the best, he was so much more than that.
Michael, the eldest of three, was born in Castlerea, Co Roscommon on June 19, 1953, to parents Des and Alice. Michael had a very happy childhood and often spoke about his memories of playing down the demesne with friends, playing Gaelic football and soccer with the local clubs, going on trips to his uncle’s farm in Moygarrah, Roscommon matches with his father and their family holidays in Salthill.
Boarding school took Michael to Summerhill College, Co Sligo, before he attended University at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where, after obtaining an undergraduate degree in commerce, he completed a H.Dip in secondary school teaching.
Michael’s first job out of college was in Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh. In his early years in Louisburgh, Michael taught his future wife Carmel. A few years later Carmel returned to Sancta Maria to complete her teaching practice and the romance began. To quote a line from Michael’s retirement speech “I taught Carmel commerce but she taught me an awful lot more”.
Michael and Carmel were married in June 1986 and they had four children together. They spent many happy years with each other and would have celebrated their 35th Wedding Anniversary this year. Family meant everything to Michael, and himself and Carmel made a great couple. Together, they set a great example for their children with their family values, loyalty, kindness, friendship and love. They were never ones to fight and they never seemed to run out of things to talk about. Their kids have nothing but good memories of their time spent together; family holidays in France, days spent playing football in the garden, going to Mayo matches, trips to Castlerea and many family events from christenings and birthdays to weddings and anniversaries. In July 2019, Michael’s first grandchild, Shea Michael Fetherston, was born. He was so proud of Shea and during his illness his daily video calls with Shea would instantly lift his spirits.
Despite being the only boy, Michael was very close to his sisters Rita and Helen and he never missed a family occasion if he could help it. With his marriage to Carmel, he became a son-in-law to the Kelly’s, and Carmel’s siblings Maureen, John and Fiona (and their families that followed) became not only his own family, but also his great friends. He was particularly close with his mother-in-law Breege and the two of them would always look out for each other. Michael played many roles in his extended family; brother, brother-in-law, son-in-law, uncle and godfather - roles he took seriously and with great pride.
An avid sports fan, Michael had a keen interest in GAA, soccer, rugby and horse racing. There would be lively debate in the house any time Roscommon played Mayo or Coventry City played Man United, with Michael’s teams (Roscommon and Coventry) usually coming out on the losing end. Sports were a constant theme in his life and plenty of his experience was passed on to his kids while playing football in the back garden.
His other great passion was drama. Over the years he was heavily involved in acting, producing and directing plays with both the Louisburgh and Westport drama groups, as well as producing the musicals staged by Ballinrobe Community School. Michael excelled on the stage. His time with the drama groups took him as far as Coventry and he was awarded an All Ireland medal for his acting skills.
Michael took great enjoyment from volunteering in the community. He read at Mass, sang in the choir, sold lotto tickets, supervised indoor football and was an active member of Lecanvey Community Council, most recently in his capacity as treasurer. He made many friends along the way and was a great example of what it means to be part of a community.
A positive, upbeat, knowledgeable man with a great sense of humour, the glass was always half full with Michael. Despite battling cancer four times over the past 20 years, he never complained about the hand he was dealt and always retained his positive demeanor. There was always time for a phone call, a laugh or a joke no matter what treatment he was undergoing. His mind over matter approach and his unfaltering ability to focus on the positive is something that his family have found both comfort and strength in in the months since his passing.
Michael is survived by his heartbroken wife Carmel, his loving children; sons Timmy (Dublin) and Des (New York), daughters Rachel and Kelly (Louisburgh), sisters Helen (Kiltormer) and Rita (Kilconnell), mother-in-law Breege (Louisburgh), daughter-in-law Kristi (Dublin), Rachel’s financé John (Westport), grandchildren Shea and Georgia (Dublin), sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law and his many nieces and nephews.