|Joe Bourke speaking at The Gathering, |
14th November 2015.
Today I attended a funeral in Ballina & Castlebar - Joe Bourke, a brother of my late father-in-law Billy, had died aged 90 years. Last November 14th Joe lead The Bourke Gathering in Castlebar at which there were the many ancestors of his Grandfather - this was also Joe's 90th birthday. There were many mentions of this day just over three months ago at the funeral.
My Grandmother, Kathleen (Hurley) O'Loughlin, used to say at family funerals of a relative that had lived a long time that it was "a happy funeral". If there is such a thing as "a happy funeral", then today's was one too. His heart-broken family were grateful for his long and fulfilled life.
On Saturday I learned of two deaths that also reminded me of our mortality. Dan McClean was a former boss of mine at the Bunclody Farmer's Co-op in the late 1970s/early 1980s. At that time the Co-op employed lots of local young people and for many of us Dan was our first boss. He was tough, but very fair - he had a loud booming voice and probably never caught any of us dossing because we could hear him coming from miles away. He gave me my first part-time job making preservatives for strawberries at the Co-op.
Another death was of somebody I never met - Mary O'Hara from Carnew. My Mum reminded me that her husband Jim befriended me while I was in hospital in Cappagh (for an operation on two broken fingers) in the late 1960s. Jim looked out for me and helped me to adjust to the hospital routine (I was there for 10 days), in what was my first lonely time away from home. To my knowledge I have not met Jim since. Mary was just 62 - taken far too early.
Rest in peace - Joe, Dan, and Mary.