St Mary’s Crescent, Westport
Mary Majella McKeown was born in St Mary’s Crescent on May 20th, 1960. Mary was the eldest of ten siblings, to parents David and Monica McKeown.
Growing up in St Mary’s Crescent (the top block) was special with families and neighbours forming friendships that endure to this day. Occasionally life presented challenges which became formative to Mary living a full life as a strong and independent woman.
Mary went to school at St Patrick’s Convent school and the Sacred Heart School, Westport.
After school Mary spent time working in Dublin but returned to work in Davitt House Castlebar for the civil service for the Department of Forestry and Coillte for over 30 years. Throughout Mary’s working time there she built up many great friendships with her colleagues, which continued well after her time with Coillte.
Mary had the gift of time, She was content in her life and had time. Throughout Mary’s life she was generous with that time and assisted and supported many voluntary organisations: the Westport PTAA Association, Western Care and Westport Guide Dogs. Mary had time for people, time to listen, time to talk and in recent years Mary’s timely walks with her dog Juno was a regular sight as she got her chores done around town. Everyone who met Mary felt something special and warm in that company, you went away feeling a better person.
Mary knew how to celebrate. She loved the special family occasion and made sure that the opportunity to splash out on some new outfit and shoes didn’t pass her by. She really enjoyed the shopping sprees, loved her style, and has passed on her love of pyjamas to her nieces. Her last purchase was a pair of red suede boots from O’Donnell’s Shoe Shop on the Mall.
Mary was active and really enjoyed many sociable hobbies, she enjoyed tennis, cycling, swimming, she walked the hills around Connemara with the Westport Hill walkers, swam at the many beaches around Clew Bay. She sang with the Westport singers and with the church choir. She knitted with the local knitting group, was a life long member of the Westport Pioneer Association. She read, kept notes in a daily diary, listened to an Nuacht and was the go-to person for Irish in the family. Mary really loved to travel. Mary’s passport stamps are a testament to this adventure whether by bike, boat, plane, train and automobile nothing stopped her. All of Ireland, Canada, Australia, USA, Lourdes, Israel, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Beijing, Italy, Germany, Barcelona, Hungary or just popping over to London or the UK for retail therapy and a catch up with family.
And Yes Mary was lucky she did her lotto numbers, tele bingo, scratch cards, crossword and raffle tickets, Her ultimate good fortune arrived in 1990 when she won a two week trip to Italia 90, flights, transfers, hotel match tickets to the World Cup. She was there supporting the boys in green, even meeting Jack’s Army, but not on the day they met the Pope. She was busy maybe visiting the shops!
Mary enjoyed many’s the good night out with friends or family which typically could have been tickets to a show, a musical or a play with the local drama group or a trip to the cinema with nephews and nieces with an adequate supply of sweets.
In recent year Mary loved her Christmas trip to Belfast, travelling by train from Westport, chatting to fellow travellers, making friends along the journey. Arriving laden down with a Christmas cake, the spiced beef and sausages from McCormack’s and the December copy of The Mayo News. She would help make the stuffing, meticulously cutting the onions and parsley taking the time with her task, again Mary certainly had the gift of time.
So An Post will certainly miss such a regular customer and stamp collector as Mary was old school in putting pen to paper, corresponding keeping them busy, keeping in touch with birthday cards being delivered far and near with the usual lotto scratch cards inside.
She was a wonderful sister, auntie, friend, neighbour, and work colleague. Mary spent her last six months expressing gratitude daily for the good life she had lived, for her family and community. She felt your love, your prayers and was deeply touched.
To finish with the words from Nathan, the first nephew: A family of 10, you were the first sister to a brother, the first sister to a sister, you were the first aunt to the first nephew and niece and the first great aunt to Molly. And you Mary will be forever in our hearts. We Love you and miss you dearly. Mary passed on to her heavenly reward on Thursday, December 2, 2022.