Tributes paid to Gertrude Mallon, ‘the beating heart of the SDLP in South Armagh’
Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their respects to the wife of former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon as she was laid to rest last Wednesday morning.
Gertrude Mallon (nee Cush) passed away at her home in Markethill on Monday last, following a long battle with dementia. It is understood the mother-of-one and former nurse had been housebound for the last number of years and had been cared for by her husband after he stepped down from frontline politics in 2005.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, ex-party leader John Hume, and former taoiseach Brian Cowen were among those who turned out for Mrs Mallon’s funeral in the Church of St James, Mullaghbrack on Wednesday, where moving tributes were paid to the “remarkable woman” described by the presiding priest as a “key player behind the scenes” of her husband’s political success.
After news of her death emerged last week, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described Mrs Mallon as “a pillar of strength and a source of hope for SDLP members in Armagh during the darkest days of conflict.” Mr Eastwood added that Mrs Mallon “had a lot to bear” given “Seamus’s towering political stature and fierce opposition to violence in south Armagh”.
Former SDLP leader John Hume said Mrs Mallon was the “beating heart of the SDLP in south Armagh” and added,
“A tower of support to Seamus, her contribution to peace, politics and people across this island is immeasurable,” he said.
“It’s often those closest to politicians who are forced to endure the most in difficult times. Gertrude’s caring nature from her background in nursing stood her in good stead as she looked after not only her own family but all those who needed support as the horrors of that time unfolded.”
Also offering his condolences, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, “I visited Gertrude and Seamus in their home last year in Markethill and saw first-hand the love and devotion they had for each other.”
“Gertrude had been ill for some time and, along with her carers, Seamus demonstrated the commitment towards her in his personal life that was a central tenet of his public, political life.”
Mrs Mallon is survived by her husband Seamus, daughter Orla, son-in-law Mark, grand-daughter Lara and sister Philomena.