Shramore, Newport formerly of Owenwee, Westport
Mary Kilkerr (née McGreal) passed away peacefully on January 6, 2022, in the care of the wonderful staff at Mayo Hospice in Castlebar, surrounded by her loving family.
Mary was predeceased by her parents Paddy and Ellen McGreal and is survived by her husband PJ, son Conor, daughter Amy, sisters Anne and Eileen, brothers Dominick, John, Thomas, Patrick and Austin, aunt Una, uncle Martin, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, cousins and a wide circle of neighbours and life long friends.
Mary was born on June 17, 1968. She was educated in Brackloon National School and Sacred Heart School, Westport. Being part of a large family, Marys working life started in her childhood years with chores on the family farm and on other farms in the region. Subsequently Mary worked in Scotts Bakery and Portwest.
Mary married PJ on July 16, 1994, after which she set up home and a new life in the beautiful Shramore Valley. After the births of her children Conor and Amy, Mary ceased working outside the home to concentrate on rearing her family and working on the family hill farm. She devoted herself to this work, and nobody could do it better. Days would consist of getting the children out to school, a trip to the hill to gather sheep often taking half a day, and preparing the dinner for all who helped on the farm, or those who happened to visit at meal time. There was always that extra plate of food in Marys kitchen. She was always available to lend a helping hand to family, friends and neighbours in so many different ways and never wanted anything in return, such was her giving nature. There is a line in a John Denver song which goes ‘“it’s a simple thing that makes a house a home”, Mary had that simple thing in abundance, and everyone who walked in the back door of their home in Shramore, whether family, friend or stranger, experienced that homeliness almost instantly.
Mary was a kind, generous and a loving person, who had an infectious sense of humour and the most wonderful smile which endeared her to everyone she crossed paths with. As Fr Tod Nolan said in his homily, “she brought a light into that valley below, and into the lives of so many people in it” he went on to say “Mary would be the first to acknowledge that she wasn’t perfect, and she would kill me for saying, if she wasn’t perfect, then she was certainly special”. In her all too short number of years, she would assist in caring for her parents, her parents-in-law and other people in the valley.
In September 2020, Mary received the dreadful news of her cancer diagnosis which would challenge her in a different way. Like all other things in her life, she would deal with this illness in her own unique way, as was the case all her life, others still came first. She knew her time on earth was limited, and despite being in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, she set about making wonderful memories with family and friends. The door was always open to visitors, of which there were many. Walks in the forestry or on the beach, (little else to do during Covid), always with family and friends and the camera got plenty of use.
And when the “carer” had to be cared for, she was a wonderful patient, never a complaint and always that wonderful smile to her last hours. In those final weeks of her life, which were spent in the excellent care of the nursing staff in Mayo University Hospital, and University Hospital Galway, Mary endeared herself to all the medical personnel who cared for her, and in doing so paved the way for the family who wished to visit her. How could anybody stop people from visiting this lovely lady, or so they must have thought. During those visits there were many tears shed, with and for Mary, but also laughter, as her life was always about laughter. Her body physically was yielding to the illness but her wonderful jovial character stayed with her to the end.
In making the difficult journey from University Hospital Galway to the Mayo Hospice, Castlebar, on what proved to be one of her final days, Mary had once again challenged herself to the limit in order to make life easier for those around her. No more long trips to Galway is exactly what she wanted for everyone.
The large crowds of people who visited the family home, lined the roads to and from the funeral home and church, paid their respects in the funeral home, attended her funeral Mass and burial, posted messages of condolence online or sent Mass cards, all showed the high regard there was for Mary in the community.
May her gentle soul rest in peace.