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In memory of Doreen Feeney

Funeral Doreen Feeney b Large Web view

Celebrant Very Reverend Canon Gerry Powell PP

We gather here today in sadness with the family of Doreen Feeney. Our thoughts are for you. We ask God to send his Holy Spirit to bring his peace to your hearts and to your homes. We give thanks to God for the long life that he gave Doreen and pray in faith that he will welcome her home to everlasting happiness in heaven.

Holding a wake for Doreen, her family has shared memories of who she was and what she meant to them. We mourn her passing, we cherish her memory. Above all you have remembered the humanity of a good person. Today as we gather in sorrow to remember Doreen. A burden of pain, burden of loss, burden of grief weighs heavily on you all. We gather as a community - our presence here today is our way of reaching out to the Feeney family.

Doreen was born in 1935 in Chapmans Row, Banbridge, to Winnie and Billy Diamond. She was the eldest of  17 children. She was a pupil at the Old Chapel School in Dromore Street, where she showed an aptitude for literature and had dreams of becoming a teacher.

Her upbringing was  tough and in many respects almost Dickensian. Her family lived in a tiny house with no luxury and food was so often scarce. She was sent out to work from the age of 9 cleaning houses before and after school. She also took on the responsibility of looking  after her many siblings, whom she loved and cared for like a second mother.

She wrote poetry from early childhood, encouraged by her mother who was an avid reader and from whom she inherited her love of literature. She had her first poem published when she was 11 years old.

Despite her aspirations to be a teacher, like many of her peers,  she had no choice but to leave school at the age of 14 .  She began work as a weaver in Brookfield , Ballydown.

She met her future husband John Michael Feeney at Tullylish Gaelic club, Laurencetown, when she was 17. He secured her attention by stinging her with nettles and throwing stones at her….this obviously worked as they married on the 13 June 1953 and spent their honeymoon at the Clarence Hotel in Dublin.

They began married life in a little gate lodge in Hallsmill and went on to have 10 children, two of whom sadly died in infancy, Collette and Michael.  She went on to have Arlene, Jimmy, Alan, Cindy, Peter, Maria, Declan and Michelle.

In 1975, her husband was murdered in the troubles leaving her to look after  8 children, the youngest being  4 years old. Despite the hardship that this brought, she fought on and remained a constant rock for her family, never losing her wicked sense of humour.

Her love of poetry continued over the years and she had poems featured in various books and magazines, on Radio Ulster and RTE Live at 3. She also published two books of poetry; one in 1996 (Dreams and Things) and another in 2014 (Something Old Something New). She was the finalist at the “Bard of Armagh” poetry competition for her poems “Bachelor Pat” and “Hirsute woman” and also regularly recited to local groups.

In later years, she travelled to America and Europe and went on various coach trips throughout the British Isles with her friend Kathleen Campbell. She also took up painting classes and produced one or two rather stunning pieces that she was immensely proud of.

Doreen was a woman of great religious faith, which gave her much fortitude in the many dark times she faced in her life. She used to say iron must go through fire to become steel and she was, but beneath it all she had a heart of gold. She was a loving mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother.

She leaves her 6 remaining children, 26 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren

We remember a lovely person, a lady who was a treasure to you all. Letting go of her today is not going to be easy, for Doreen was a great lover of family, people and life itself. Thank you to all who cared for her and loved her in life. Now her long years of sacrifice and recent suffering with the loss of Jimmy and Arlene are over.

As Doreen has died now a part of you dies as well. You are filled with sorrow because her death leaves a gap that no-one else can fill adequately. When we remember her today we cannot help recalling the things she said and the way she said them, the things she did and her way of doing them but sadness is tinged with hope and expectation. We pray that she is with the Lord and we look forward to the day when we will be reunited with her. Christ’s resurrection assures us that if we follow him we will rise again. It is only with death that life really makes sense, it’s our leap into eternity, it is God calling us home to be with him forever. At a time like this we come face to face with our own mortality.

Living a truly Catholic life is about waiting in hope and as people of hope we believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Doreen’s period of waiting is now over. No one can say she got life easy. All those years of worry, loneliness and sorrow and rearing a large family when times were hard have made of her life a pilgrimage of pain - a journey from birth to death and the reason she could see purpose in the pain or sense in the suffering was because Jesus Christ came on this earth to conquer death and save us from our sins.

She died after her strength could no longer meet the challenge of life. Today then we bid farewell to Doreen. Despite your sense of loss, you will face the future with courage and hope, knowing that that is what your mummy would want you to do. We comfort one another in the sure confidence that for Doreen life has changed, not ended. We also derive comfort from the conviction that she is at peace with God. May her gentle soul rest in peace.

 

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