Friday, 31 March 2017



"At most funerals the priest does not always know the deceased person very well and it can be difficult for him to speak very personally about the deceased.

A good priest will visit the family home with a notebook and pen and learn about the deceased and therefore be able to speak well.

Today's Funeral Mass could not be more different.

I am Mag's brother and her and I have been in each other's lives for 25 day's short of 64 years!

Imagine that. 64 years.

Most here today will know that I was the oldest of 17 children. Margaret was born 11 months after me. I used to joke here that she was a "delayed twin".

I was only 11 month's older than her and of course I have no memory of her birth. But I can just imagine our Mam and Day introducing her to me on April 24th 1952 with the words; "Pat, here is your new sister Margaret".

I do have photographs oh her and I as toddlers - in the pram together and playing in the street outside our poor home in Tullamore, County Offaly. 

We started school on the same day when I was 4 and she was 3 - me in hobnailed boots and Mag in one of those skirts held closed with a big silver pin.

We made our First Holy Communion on the same day. I was 7 and she was 6.

From the beginning Mag and I were a miniature "Bonny and Clyde". Mag was a "tomboy" and I was a "goodie goodie". But I made the balls and Mag threw them :-)

When we lived in Carlow (1956 - 19960) Mag had all the boys her own age and 3 or 4 years older than her terrified. She would wait for them on their way home from school in a secluded gateway and attack as they passed :-)

Foe a while in Carlow we lived in Graigecullen in Carlow and there was a little neighbour girl with a beautiful head of red curls and thressels. That was until Mag went after her with our kitchen scissors and left her like a skin head. The girl's mother came!

The most famous incident involving Mag and I was with our brother John who was third in line. John was a cranky little child and Mag and I (God forgive us) ganged up on him.

One day we were crossing a plank over a bog ditch in Pollagh in County Offaly - John first, Mag second and me last. I whispered to Mag "Shove him in the ditch". Mag immediately obeyed and in John went. I then went running to the house shouting: "Daddy, Daddy, Margaret's after pushing John into the bog hole". Tout :-)

AND THEN WE GREW UP. I went off to seminary at 18 and Margaret later married Christy. 

In adult life Margaret's passion and reason for living were her children and grandchildren

Her children were Christopher, Patricia, James and Philip.

Her grandchildren were Giovanna, Conor, Brandon, Callan, Eve, Cian, Jake and Sophie.


In September 1997 Christopher took his own life.

Part of Margaret died with Christopher. 

In ways she lost her desire to live at only 43.

Sir Winston Churchill talked about his depression as the BLACK DOG in his life.

After Christopher's death a very big black dog came to live in Mag's life. In fact it ruled her life.

Her only comfort in her depression was the cigarettes.  They in turn ended up destroying her physical health. 

Eventually she developed COPD, pneumonia, cardiac problems, breathing problems and artery disease. 

I'm sure it was the fags that did for Mag last Sunday morning when she died within minutes.,

Sad to think that her only comfort ended up being her final enemy.

In the last 20 years I tried to help her all I could. She lived with me for a while in Larne. 

I brought her on the trip of her lifetime to Venice where we holidayed, shopped, dined and went on a gondola trip.


I brought her to the 5 * Lough Eske Castle in Donegal. We went for a massage there and the staff thinking we were husband and wife offered up a couple massage room. 

When she came to Larne I brought her out for meals and drives. Her favourite drive was along a hilly country road full of hills. She loved going fast over the bumps. 

Last time I picked her up in Dublin to bring her to Larne was 4 weeks ago. When she answered the door I was shocked at her appearance. She looked very ill and her ill appearance haunted me. 

As it turned out she was weeks from death but she died suddenly. 

We find her death hard to take in.

Is there anything good that comes out of her death?

There might be?

Her sufferings are over.

Her black dog is dead.

She's back with her beloved Christopher and her Mum, JoJo.


She will no longer have to hang out the window in the middle of the night grasping for air and breath. 

But what a price to pay for these "good" outcomes ?

Many of us here believe in God. 

I hope that God will 

Turn the pain we feel into some gain.

The sorrow we feel into some joy.

These tears of ours into future smiles. 

She Is Gone
You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

David Harkins


  1. May the earth rest lightly upon her.

  2. Lovely !Pat.
    Lovely family.
    And you haven't changed a bit since that first communion photo.
    Rest in peace your Marg

  3. Pat,
    I am moved by your beautiful tribute to someone who you obviously loved very deeply, but could I suggest that this post does not belong among the muck raking of this blog. If you think anything of your beloved sister take it dowm. She doesn't belong among the sodomites.

    1. We have many readers who will appreciate.

      I'll block the gangsters.

    2. 23:15 is right. Such a heartfelt tribute does not belong on this blog. May your dear Sister rest in peace.

    3. I would like my 5000 - 15000 readers to know about my Mag.

  4. Glad to be among the 15,000. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Sympathies, Pat, to you and your family.

    Was the remark about sodomites at 23:15 an attempt at irony and a reference to yourself, or what it made in ignorance? In either case it's in very poor taste.

    1. think it was a reference to seminarians and deacons?

    2. The issue isn't sodomites anyway - its hypocrites.

      Beautiful eulogy Pat - I'm sorry for your loss.

  6. Thank you for sharing , Pat
    Rest in peace marg

  7. God bless Mag! That was a beautiful homily, so moving in its simplicity. You were very good to her,very kind. Knowing that you added to her joy in life will now help in your healing process. Mag,herself experienced the intense pain of loss and so she now knows your pain. I am confident that she will intercede for you in God's Presence. In the midst of your grief you will feel calm and strong. She will not be outdone in generosity. Love never dies. Not when it was genuine--Take good care of yourself in the coming weeks as a bereavement leaves you tired and vulnerable for a while afterwards. I will pray for you both.. Cecily.

  8. Eternal rest grant onto her, O Lord!
    May she Rest In Peace.

  9. Pat this is one of the most beautiful and truly moving things I have ever read on here. It must have been heart breaking for you to have to preach and celebrate your own sisters Requiem. I wept as I read your loved-filled and honest words. Thank you for sharing them. Beautiful words from a beautiful man.

  10. A moving tribute, Pat. I disagree with those who think it shouldn't be here. It makes a welcome change from, what can often be, depressing reading.

    Once again, my condolences to you on the loss of Margaret.

  11. Lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  12. May she rest in peace. This also reminds people you are a real person with a real family. I wonder if many who post over the top inappropriate comments are in essence not "real" people because of lack of balanced life view

    1. Are you serious with this comment Sean? You should be in Maynooth, that kind of crap which is nothing more than unqualified psychology is dangerous. Are you real, you are the fallen one brother.

  13. Did the Archbishop grant you permission to preside in his Archdiocese? Only wondering.

    1. The archbishop has no jurisdiction over me.

  14. +Pat, May she rest in peace, I'll pray for you both. +Niall

    1. Sheridan uumm - are you still public? Are you not ashamed?

    2. Whats up with the plus signs?

  15. Where is Harkin poet from ?

    1. "You can shed tears that she is gone..." is the opening line of a piece of popular verse, based on a short prose poem, "Remember Me", written in 1982 by English painter and poet David Harkins (born 14 November 1958). The verse – sometimes also known as "She Is Gone" – has often been given an anonymous attribution, but Harkins claimed his original authorship after it was chosen by Queen Elizabeth II as part of the funeral ceremony for her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, in April 2002. It has subsequently become a popular choice to be read at funeral ceremonies, although according to Harkins it was originally written about unrequited love, rather than death.

  16. This blog is mad. One minute a hairy ass the next minute a tribute to a life lived well! Mad......

    1. 15.33 Even the hairy ass has a mum and dad. Life is unpredictable to say the least

    2. One gets the impression 15.33 you'd rather read about the big fat flabby hairy ass.

    3. There's nothing wrong with that hairy arse!!! Maybe you guys are jealous of it?

    4. Dear 18:59 the fact is I did not even glance beyond the picture. I am into reading religious affairs / theological blogs. I decided that kind of story was not for me. Now this lovely tribute to this clearly lovely lady was and is my kind of story. Hence my confusion - it is extreme. As for the rather read that I am confused further, what did I say to give you that impression?

  17. Thanks so much , Pat, for that information
    So much more lovely than some of the poems I've listened to at funerals.

  18. Life is only lent to us for a short. time. It's only when we really realize how short it is, that it slips us by.
    For us that are left behind we have the good and bad memories to live with, I hope for you Pat that the i is removed and the I firmly takes its place as memories to LOVE.

  19. Pat, I wept at the picture with your sister. You really haven't changed through the years. You look the picture of an innocent and vulnerable boy, and I suspect that behind all the bravado you still basically are. You have painted yourself into a corner with your relationship with the church but it's not too late to put things right. Your dear sister has gone home to God and who knows when your turn will come....... you know not the day nor the hour.

    1. +Pat's life has put him right with God. The institution has made its own mess of itself and Pat has seen it for what it is.

      Pat, I am sorry for your loss. May God comfort you and may His angels receive Mag and present her to God the most high.


  20. MourneManMichael2 April 2017 at 01:51

    Anon @ 22:29 seems to be trying to somehow get you Pat to "repent and change". ("you've painted yourself into a corner, know not the day nor the hour".)
    From following your blog this past few years I think you're made of sterner stuff than to be "blackmailed" by this all too familiar RC deployment of the cradle catholic guilt complex and piling on the 'fear of the unknown'.
    I would say stay true to the consistent message and path you've advocated for a considerable time now. The more perceptive, intelligent and thoughtful contributors to this blogsite consistently confirm their understanding, agreement, and acceptance of the integrity of your stance vis a vis the self serving lack of probity of much of orthodox RC church behaviour.
    I contribute as a Humanist not because I seek to deride any deist belief. I'm content that anyone may choose to believe as they will. I'm just not content that so much time, effort, and financial contribution is directed naively into an institution (the RC church organisation), time and time again to have been shown as corrupt and a long way removed from the central tenets of the central message of Christianity. (The Golden Rule derived from much older belief systems : "Do as you would be done by")
    So stick with what you're doing Pat in exposing all the dark and unseen corners.

    1. That a Humanist has any view on a faith based institution is itself a contradiction. Sadly many who pose for us a humanists are in reality vicious 'enemies of the cross of Christ' as St. Paul put is so eloquently. This blog falls under the same condemnation. Like it or not the Roman Catholic Church is the authentic Church all others are in error.