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In memory of Peggy Savage

Peggy Savage

 

Funeral Leaflet Peggy Savage

Funeral Mass celebrated by Fr. Matthew McConville.

Tribute to Peggy Byrne (R.I.P) written by her brother Malachy Byrne who read it at the funeral.

Margaret Peggy Byrne was born on the 25th of February 1951 in Gilford. She was the 3rd youngest of nine children and the youngest of four girls. Growing up Peggy was quite good at whatever she put her mind to. She passed her 11 plus and went to the same grammar school as our mum went to, St. Michael’s in Lurgan, where she passed her junior and her senior exams. Peggy also followed mum when it came to music. When mum was young, she played the violin and Peggy played the piano up to grade 5. I am sure you can see Peggy set the bar quite high for Sean and I following behind her, although we both tried to match her in the music field - myself on the guitar and Sean on the accordion- I believe mum had this notion we could have been the Irish answer to The Osmonds or The Jackson 5. Alas the Gilford three never really took off!

Tragedy struck our family when my two older brothers died within four years of each other. Niall was 29 and Peter was 36. It was a difficult time in our lives, but we managed to survive, and Peggy was the glue that held us together.

In 1987, Peggy’s love of her life arrived -a little boy named Martin. Peggy was the epitome of what a mother should be - she nurtured, loved and encouraged him in everything he tried to do. Martin grew up loving and respecting his mum. While still at school, Martin got a part time job in the Spar in Gilford and loved it so much that when he left school, he became full time. Peggy joined him there a few years later and they worked together for 12 years until Peggy had to give up due to her illness.

She loved her job and she had a great relationship with the owners, Aidan and Cecilia and later on with their son Niall and his wife Barbara when they took over the store. Peggy not only loved her job but the banter she had with the customers and always had a smiling face to greet them.

Peggy was renowned for her charity work. When Martin was at primary school for five years, she opened her house to show off her Christmas lights, decorations, moving animals and crib and all the money raised each year went to a different cancer charity.

Our sister Pauline died in 1992 and then mum in 1993 and once again our family was plunged into grief and, like before, Peggy held us together. After mum died in 1993 Peggy took over mum’s missionary work for Dromantine, selling books and Mass cards and she did this until November this year. Between mum and Peggy, they did this work for 45 years raising thousands and thousands of pounds for Dromantine.

Peggy was a great supporter of our Primary school in Gilford, providing hampers to raise funds for the school and to our chapel, where every Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter Sunday and Father’s Day, she would provide goody bags for all in attendance.

When Dad died 10 years after Mum, again grief visited us, and this was really hard for Peggy as he lived with her since Mum died. Just as before, we survived.

Peggy and Martin attended the wedding of our niece Suzanne in Canada in September 2001 and they were there for three weeks, but the trip was extended. A few days before they were due to fly home, the terrorist attack of 9-11 took place in New York so their return was delayed by about four days. When they did arrive home to Ireland, Peggy told me at the airport, ‘that’s it – I will never leave Ireland again – and she didn’t!’………………………..

As a family we would like to thank all of those people who, over the past three years and nine months, supported Peggy during her illness and especially these last few weeks. It meant so much to Peggy that you all took the time to think of her and contact her as she fought a courageous battle to the end. We would like to thank Doctor Foy who was Peggy’s hero in the Mandeville unit in Craigavon hospital, sister Jane Hill and all her nursing colleagues and the tea ladies who all went the extra mile, not only for Peggy but all the patients in their care. We would also like to thank the staff in the Cancer Unit at Belfast City hospital for their care and attention as Peggy’s condition worsened. Thank you goes to Audrey and her team of carers from Gilford Health Centre who attended Peggy four times a day these past four weeks, their empathy, professionalism, kindness and humour to Peggy was such a comfort to her. These people - doctors, nurses, carers are much more than just health workers , they are angels in our midst. I'd like to thank my niece Nicola and Tina who have travelled the road with Peggy this last number of years going to appointments, scans etcetera and cousin Marie who also attended appointments if Nicola or Tina weren't available.

Peggy was blessed with good neighbours: Claire, Seamus and Mary, Kathleen and Sean, Kay and Brendan, Frankie and her friend of 40 years, Dora. Also to Angela, Tina's mum, for all the work she had done over these past few weeks. Thank you so much Canon Powell for giving Peggy the sacrament of the sick last Thursday as it meant a lot to her, to Fr. Matt McConville who, after Sunday Mass, always talked to Peggy about her treatment and what to expect from side effects etc., which thankfully, she didn't suffer. This brought great comfort to her to. Also Martin's uncle Eugene - thank you for your ongoing support of him.

I would like to welcome my brother Joseph, his wife Bobbie and my nieces Stephanie and Suzanne and my cousin Matthew McAteer and his wife Teresa who are watching in Toronto on the webcam -also my cousin Cathy who is in Los Angeles.

Many thanks to Jack McLernon and his team for the way they looked after Peggy’s remains with such dignity and professionalism. Thanks to Lynn and Paula ( the singers) who sang Peggy’s favourite hymns so beautifully . Thanks also goes to Martin’s football team (Mindwell FC) who formed a guard of honour as we entered the Chapel.

Last, but not least, there is one person who inspired Peggy not to give up and to keep fighting and that's my godson and great nephew Odhran. When Peggy was first diagnosed, she feared she would never see him make his first communion or serve on the altar. Even though his communion was delayed by COVID, she saw both of these happen. Since Odhran was born eight years ago he spent most of his weekends with his granny Peggy and, like his dad, went to mass each Sunday. Peggy and Odhran went everywhere together. They loved shopping, especially in Craigavon shopping centre and they took train journeys to Belfast, Bangor, Newry and Dublin. They also loved the Theatre especially with the Christmas pantomimes. When Peggy had to bring the money she had raised for the sale of Mass cards up to Dromantine, Odhran rode shotgun for her security! They loved their trips to Warrenpoint to her sister Geraldine’s house and Odhran had a great time with my nephew and niece’s children. Odhran and his little brother Caidon will miss their granny Peggy but they know she is in heaven looking down on them and when they get lonely and sad and miss her, they only have to say a little prayer to her and she will make them feel better. To Martin, you are more than nephew to Sean and I - you're more like a son and we will always be here for you and Tina and the boys as I know you will always be here for us. …….

Once again our family is plunged into a tunnel of grief and I know we can count of the people of Gilford for their love and support as we struggle one day to see light at the end of this tunnel.

Many people have asked the family if it would be possible when COVID is over if we could have a memorial mass for Peggy so they could attend safely to pay their respects and to celebrate her life. God willing, if we survive COVID, we will try to make this happen.

On the 20th of December 2020 at 8:25 pm, Gilford lost a bright light and Heaven gained a new angel. Rest in peace Sis.

 

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