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29 May 2022

Tributes pour in following passing of Longford community stalwart Bridie Gray

Bridie Gray

The late Bridie Gray (née Breslin), Ennybegs, Killoe

Great sadness greeted news of the death last week of one of the oldest citizens in Killoe, Bridie Gray.

 

She was of a generation that shaped the parish and the family have been synonymous with the community and so many aspects of Longford life down through the years.

It was truly fitting that the community and friends turned out in such great numbers to bid their farewells to Bridie at St Mary’s Church, Ennybegs, as it was the place that the deeply religious and spiritual Bridie always found great solace.

She was a great servant of the Church – whether it was flower arranging, cleaning the chapel and the counting of the weekly church offerings for 25 years.

Bridie’s greatest delight was her family and she revelled in the company of her grandchildren in particular and there won’t have been a prouder woman as granddaughter, Emma, who delivered a poignant and heartfelt tribute to their family matriarch.

Bridie grew up in a carefree 1930s Killoe when the Breslin family farmed and worked hard. One of the most good natured and caring women you were ever likely to meet, it was always surprising to learn that sudden or early deaths had sadly hallmarked Bridie’s life.

The first of those blows would come in 1947 with the sudden and tragic death of her father. Bridie, at the age of 16, stepped up to the plate and assumed many of the farming duties and it was often said she knew as much, if not more, about the land and stock than any agri science graduate.

She loved to regale family with tales of cycling to dances in Esker Hall with her sister. Ironically it wasn’t there that she met her future husband, Tom Gray, but rather at a local wake and the couple were married in 1955.

Naturally the couple began farming and soon welcomed their seven children into the world. It was a busy but extremely happy house and then in 1979, Bridie was dealt another of those blows with the sudden death of Tom. Then she was left to fend with a busy farm with over 200 pigs and cattle and four children still under the age of ten. It didn’t deter her though and her spirit, good humour never wilted.

Because Bridie always felt that there was somebody worse off or facing a great challenge in life and whether it was the neighbour with a sick animal or illness in the family, Bridie was always there for them and their special intentions included in her prayers.

She was very much of a generation that believed absolutely in the community spirit and the need to look after your neighbours and hold them dear. She embodied the very best of what it means to be Irish and of rural Longford.

As the children grew older and got married and the grandchildren started to arrive, it is fair to say that Bridie entered the most fulfilling period of her life. She relaxed ever so slightly but kept a sharp eye on the farm and all family developments.

She was happiest surrounded by her grandchildren and they revelled in her baking and especially the trademark apple tarts with the last slice typically fought over.

There was sadly another blow lurking in the shadows for Bridie and that was the death of her son, Thomas.

As unnatural as it is for a mother to bury her son, it didn’t harden Bridie but she held his memory dear.

In all the heartache of recent days the family will find comfort in knowing that Bridie is now reunited with Tom, Thomas and her own father and mother and siblings.

If family, farming and Church defined much of Bridie’s life, it would be remiss if we didn’t recall her beloved ICA where she displayed many of her creative talents- and it was great to see her ICA friends of many years out in such force to say a fond farewell.

Bridie’s latter years were spent in the loving care of staff at Laurel Lodge and the family were immensely grateful for the care which she received there.

Sadly, Bridie Gray (née Breslin) of Ennybegs, Killoe, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 20, surrounded by her family. She was predeceased by her husband, Tom, son, Thomas; and by her brother and sisters. Bridie will be forever remembered with love by her heartbroken family, sons Paul and James, daughters Anne Halligan, Helen, Breda Murphy and Una Mulligan, sons-in-law, daughters -in-law, her adored 15 grandchildren; sister Eilish, sister-in-law Kathleen (USA), nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and her many good friends.

Her remains reposed at Connell's Funeral Home, Longford, before removal from her home to her beloved St Mary's Church, Ennybegs, for Funeral mass, followed with burial in Aughaboy Cemetery on Wednesday, March 23.

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