There was great sadness across the region but most especially in the Killoe and Ballinalee area recently as news spread of the death of Bridie McManus.
A quiet and unassuming woman, like the rest of her generation she worked extremely hard and never allowed the challenges that came her way to impede her devotion to family, the church and farming.
Bridie was the only daughter of Tom Joe and Kathleen (nee Dolan) Heslin and she was born in 1929. Home was a busy farm and in the 1930s it was very much a case of all hands on deck.
As an only child Bridie soon found herself pulled into the daily chores but she loved the outdoors and farming. She delighted in her parents’ company and from an early age was keen to know as much as possible about the workings of the farm.
In the shadow of Cairn Hill the farm was a busy one and Bridie was dealt a cruel blow when both her parents died very young and she was left to run the busy farm. Heartbroken but undeterred she maintained the work ethos handed down from her parents and the family holding went from strength to strength.
In 1959 she married Paddy McManus from Drumlish and it was a loving marriage that saw them live happily together until his death in May 2008.
Married for 49 years, there is no doubt that his passing was a blow for Bridie and the family can take great comfort from the knowledge that the pair are now reunited in heaven.
The couple had a wonderful old style farm family home in Dernacross. It was one of the great céilí houses in the region and their three children, Mary, PJ and Catríona (Columb) grew up in a house full of laughter, music and friendship. It was a wonderful way of life and an introduction to the world for which they are forever grateful.
Bridie and Paddy were trojan workers but they also loved to relax when the time came and the weekends saw them out visiting the old style ‘singing lounges’ for the ballad nights in some of the famous venues around the county. Some of their favourite spots included Slevin’s of Bunlahy; the Cairn Hill Tavern in Drumlish and Sonny Keenan’s Glenview Lounge in Aughnacliffe.
Bridie was just six days short of her 87th birthday when she passed away and in many ways her long life defied many of the medics. Due to ill health the doctors had no option but to remove her kidney at forty years of age. That she came home to live a full and busy life for so many years afterwards was certainly unique but probably owed much to the fact that she never dwelled on these things and simply got on with life and the work that had to be done on the farm and keeping a young family going.
Bridie was a wonderfully caring woman and this was reflected in the care and attention given to her by her children as she became ill in recent times. She was a warm hearted and extremely generous woman who was always troubled by any distress that came the way of neighbours and friends. She embodied all the sound principles that make for a good neighbour.
As she came to terms with illness in recent times, she was adamant that she would not allow it to detract from her living as full a life as possible.
The great blessing in Bridie’s life was undoubtedly her grandchildren, Eimear and Conor Columb. They were blessed with a wonderful grandmother who showered them with love and helped instil many of the values that are now sadly fading from the fabric of rural Ireland.
She lived for news of their latest adventures and followed their progress through school and their sporting endeavours with great passion and delight. If there was a cut or a bruised leg, then the best medicine was almost certainly a visit to Granny Bridie’s.
She was a deeply religious woman and had an unshakable faith and she set great store and devotion in her daily prayers. She believed absolutely in the power of prayer and always remembered family or friends faced with illness or challenges in her daily prayers.
A large number of people were to call to the McManus family home to pay their respect whilst her beloved St Mary’s Church in Ennybegs was overflowing for her funeral mass. She was a wonderful woman who left a lasting impression on many and this was reflected in the upset and sadness at the passing of a dedicated neighbour and friend to many.
However her untimely passing is felt most by her heartbroken family. She was very much the centre of their lives and whilst her passing will long be lamented in Dernacross, they take much comfort from the fact that this was a great woman who gave so much in her time with us. She was a homemaker, a farmer, a decent God fearing, generous and community spirited woman. But above all she was a wonderful daughter, wife, mother and grandmother and her legacy will long live on.
Bridie McManus (nee Heslin) passed away on September 14 surrounded by her heartbroken family in Mullingar General Hospital. Her passing is deeply regretted by her loving son PJ; daughters, Mary and Catríona (Columb), son-in-law Michael, grandchildren Eimear and Conor, cousins, relatives, neighbours and a large circle of friends. Her remains reposed at the family home in Dernacross, Ballinalee, before being brought to St Mary's Church, Ennybegs for funeral mass followed by burial in the local cemetery.