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In memory of Maria McCartan

                         Funeral Maria McCartan

A sad occasion like this today is an occasion to reminisce and to allow the mind to linger on moments from the past. Memories flood back of childhood experiences of being cared for, encouraged and loved by a loving mother.

This is a time when gratitude for a loving wife, mother, daughter and sister, friend and colleague wells up in your hearts for a “job well done”. It is a time of awakening to an appreciation of the gifts and blessings received. It is only in hindsight that the gift becomes clear. Life is lived going forwards but understood looking backwards.

Maria was born on 20th June 1960 and was the eldest of James and Brigid McDermott’s five children. Maria enjoyed growing up on the family farm in Drumnavaddy with her brothers, Seamus, John, Martin and sister Angela. Being the eldest of the family, they all looked to Maria as their leader and this is a role she held in the McDermott household until her passing.

Maria attended St Colman’s Primary School in Dromore and St Patrick’s in Banbridge. When Maria was doing her A Levels in 1976 she had to make her first major decision in life and decided to shelve her studies for a while and join the Civil Service as a Clerical Officer.  It soon became clear that she made the right decision as she was fortunate to get three promotions inside the next ten years and became one of the youngest managers in her department. Her outgoing personality and warmth made her very popular with her colleagues, making many lifelong friends throughout her successful career. 

Maria met her husband Brendan at a football match. The McDermott and McCartan families had been friends for many years and were delighted when Brendan and Maria married in April 1986. They set up home in Laurencetown and Maria settled into the community with ease. Maria was a devoted and loving wife and mother. She was a very hands on mother, supporting Catherine, Claire, Terry, Willie-John and Sarah through their education whilst also ensuring that she was able to help guide them with wider support and advice.

Maria was an active member of the local community. She was on St Colman’s Bann Primary School Board of Governors whilst her children attended the school and happily maintained the links she made by continuing in this role. 

She was a keen historian who loved a good book! She was a member of the local Historical Society and enjoyed the company and craic of its members and helping to organise various events. After shelving her studies at 16 Maria always had ambitions to go to university. In 2003 somehow, she managed to work, run a busy house and find the time to study and gained a degree in History and Humanities shortly after her youngest child Sarah was born. 

Maria’s parents James and Brigid brought their family up with a strong Christian faith. This was evident in the person Maria was by the kind words and actions she showed to many throughout her life.  She saw the good in everyone and as one of her former colleagues put it, Maria would have been a bad public prosecutor as she would only ever be able to highlight the positives!

Maria was especially good to her mother Brigid who she visited regularly, somehow, managing to continue these visits through her illness, bringing her Sunday Dinner every week! Anyone who visited the family home in Laurencetown was made feel welcome and never left hungry as there was always tea and dinner on the go.

Maria suffered ill health in the last few years of her life but did so without complaining or questioning the reason why. She maintained her strong faith throughout her battle with cancer and faced it courageously. The nursing staff and doctors in Newry Hospice were extremely caring and attentive in her final weeks of life. They all commented on how positive her outlook was and said she was a delight to nurse, something her family are very proud of.

The time Maria spent with her family and friends has sadly ended but we are thankful for her life, the memories she has left with us and take comfort she will no longer suffer. 

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 Maria was a great lover of family, people and life itself. Today then we bid farewell to Maria. Despite your sense of loss, you will face the future with courage and hope, knowing that that is what she would want you to do. We comfort one another in the sure confidence that for Maria life has changed, not ended. We also derive comfort from the conviction that she is at peace with God after all her suffering which she bore with great courage.

But if we are sad today, there is also much to be thankful for. We are grateful for the life she did have, grateful for all the joy she brought into our lives. For you her loving family there’s the comfort of knowing that you were able to show her throughout her life how much you all loved her and appreciated her.

You knew that time was precious in recent times. All that you could have done for her, you did. There are no regrets.

It is only to God we can turn at this time to try to find some meaning, some consolation; some hope in the situation we find ourselves in. Prayer will bring us through this time.

All of us gathered here today we just want to say how sorry we are for your great loss – to Maria’s family and extended family you are all in our prayers - May her gentle soul rest in peace. 

As we gather to pray here today, we want to assure you, of the love and prayers of all of us here.

I know that Maria would want me to say thank you to all who have minded her and cared for her since her initial diagnosis, through to her leaving us on Sunday evening in the hospice. Amen.

We extend our deepest sympathy to her loving husband Brendan, daughters Catherine, Claire and Sarah, sons Terry and Willie John, mother Brigid, sister Angela, brothers Johnnie, Seamus and Martin, son in law Colm and the entire family circle.




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