Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Mourners bid devastated farewell to ‘loving and vibrant’ Mary O

The vibrant personality and positive outlook of Mary O’Reilly shone through the tears of mourners who gathered at her funeral in Cullyhanna on Thursday.

A loving wife and devoted mother, Mary O – as she was affectionately known – lost her long and courageous battle with cancer, leaving her heartbroken family and wider community bereft at her loss. 

Having fought serious illness for more than four years, surrounded by her heart-broken family, the 45-year-old mother-of-six finally succumbed to its effects late on Monday evening last, at her home on Ballinarea Road.

Mary’s untimely passing has robbed her husband Gerard and children Erin, Conor, Aoife, Niamh and Ciara of the nucleas in their lives, a dedicated and devoted wife and mother. Indeed the family has suffered the heartbreak of bereavement in the past when in 2006 the couple’s sixth child, baby Eoin, passed away at just two days old from a congenital heart defect.  Then, as now, the community rallied in support of the devastated family.

Mary bore her illness with dignity and courage, and was inspirational in her ‘can do’ attitude, always putting her family before herself.  Initially diagnosed with breast cancer on her 42nd birthday in May 2015, Mary’s immediate reaction was to face her illness head on.  She embarked on a year-long grueling course of treatment, which she had just completed when she was told the cancer had spread to her liver.  Further treatment followed and, keen to assist the young family, the community of Cullyhanna launched a fundraising campaign to aid further specialist medical treatment and help alleviate pressures on the family.  In the ensuing years, Mary never let her illness define her.  A keen GAA supporter, she attended matches and events and at one stage became well enough to take part in the Gaelic for Mums team with St. Patrick’s GFC, having formerly played on the club’s camogie team.  Reacting to news of her passing, the club extended sympaty on its Facebook page, describing Mary as “one of the heartbeats of our club and our community”.  The Cullyhanna club was consistently to the forefront of her family’s life and Mary immersed herself in various committees and activities, ensuring the club became an integral part of her children’s lives too.

At her funeral on Thursday, hundreds packed into St. Patrick’s Church, many wearing the club jersey, to pay their respects.  Mary was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.  

Left to mourn her passing are her heartbroken husband Gerard, children Erin, Conor, Aoife, Niamh and Ciara, parents Alice and Mickey Joe, sister Noreen, brothers Jim and Damien and the wider family circle.  

Her loss is immeasurable.