Obituary: Margaret Deegan, Ballymore Eustace

Margaret was a straight shooter with a heart of gold who was at the centre of the local community

Rose B O'Donoghue

Reporter:

Rose B O'Donoghue

Obituary: Margaret Deegan, Ballymore Eustace

The late Margaret Deegan

A hard worker and one who always ran to time, the late Margaret Deegan may have perhaps timed her departure on March 8 to perfection. For Margaret’s death and funeral occurred just before the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions and was one of the last ‘normal’ funeral and burials in her adopted village of Ballymore Eustace.

A Waterford woman by birth, Margaret never forgot the ‘Deise’ (Waterford) which was always referred to as ‘home’. Born Margaret Dunne on August 13, 1941, to Eileen and Edward Dunne, she grew up in a happy household with sisters Mary, Ann and Eillen, and two brothers Martin and Eddie at Knockenduff, Tramore, Co Waterford.

Like so many of her era, Margaret left school at 14, and with her cousin Joan Cowman, she went to work in a nursing home in London, and obviously sending a good deal of money home to her mam in Knockenduff — also the name she and Jim gave to their home at Golden Falls in Ballymore Eustace.

Hard work was the norm for that generation, but throughout her life, the late Margaret never shirked a tough job and was always and ever busy.

It was in London that she met Jim Deegan from Ballymore Eustace and, according to her daughters, ‘fell for him, hook, line and sinker’.

“Our dad then christened her ‘Mag’,” said Elizabeth and Jacqueline. “She always said ‘I was never a Mag till I met your father!’”. The newly christened Mag and Jim were married on April 4, 1964, and in March the following year, they welcomed their first born, Elizabeth, a well known hairdresser.

Initially, the family moved to Briencan in Ballymore Eustace before moving back to Coventry in the UK where daughter Jacqueline was born.

“The fact they had me, the perfect child,” read Jacqueline at the funeral service, “they felt their family was complete with their two girls!

“However, a surprise was in store and in 1985, their first grandson Shay was born and as you all know, Mummy totally adored him. It was another 14 years before Luke, grandson number two arrived, followed shortly by Jake, then Paul, Conor and Simon — six grandsons and (apparently), no favourites, she adored them all!”

Margaret was ace at ironing and no matter how heavy her workload or family commitments, she never refused work. She also was a great knitter and every year, she took over the window display in Elizabeth’s Hair Salon where her knitted toys, seasonal gifts and clothing were sold.

There is many a household in the village who will have purchased her knitted cribs, all the figures from the nativity from the Holy Family to the visiting shepherds, angel and of course, the Three Wise Men.

It is a treasured item in this house as over the decades, Margaret and Jim Deegan showed exceptional kindness to my late Uncle John Kelly, with whom they had shared digs during their early life in London. In later life, when John suffered a serious stroke, they showed great hospitality and friendship to John on his visits home — a kindness John’s children and family will never forget.

“In recent days,” said Jacqueline at Margaret’s funeral service, “there have been many great and lasting friends Mummy made throughout her life, from her childhood friends in Tramore to those made in London and in Ballymore, even those new found friends made in hospital wards since she became ill last June.

“There are too many to name here individually but you all know who you are. Your kindness shown over the past days and weeks have overwhelmed us with so many positive messages and lovely stories about Mummy, some we’d never heard before.

“All this was so comforting but one message in particular sums up Mummy’s mischievous character — and that’s from our cousin Steve.

“Here is what Steve wrote: ‘I’m trying to think of something to say but it’s impossible. I can only imagine what the last few weeks have been like. Aunty Margaret, I would never have dared call her ‘Mag’! I have a little story that nobody knows; for years after my 21st birthday, many of my college friends would ask after my mad auntie ‘Mags’.

“It seems Auntie rang Paddy’s the day after my party to encourage opening the pub early so my celebrations could continue! From then, they thought she was a legend. So did I, she was one feisty lady, didn’t suffer fools gladly but had a heart of gold”.

Steve, who was working in South Africa at the time, added: “I’m so sorry I can’t be there to give you both a hug. And if I rang, I’d be a blubbering edjit within seconds. My thoughts are with you all and the grandkids, love to you all — up the Deise!”

What must be noted here is Margaret’s tireless energy. She worked hard but loved to enjoy a night or two out at the weekend and supported every fundraiser or project in the village. She loved a dance and sing-song, a night out with family and friends.

She was also a straight talker — as in, if Margaret had something to say, she said it, with all guns blazing! If she felt strongly about something, she let rip but never held a grudge and once she spoke her mind (and the grazes healed), Margaret continued with you as before.

She adored her girls and her fine batch of grandsons. Her illness was born in typical Margaret fashion, upfront looking well, dolled up to the nines and getting on with it, no moaning and whinging, live every minute till life is gone. Sadly, the family bid farewell to Francie, Margaret’s brother-in-law in recent years, when Margaret herself was battling illness.

At the end, she wanted privacy with her family, and despite their heartbreak, she was only a short time in St Brigid’s Hospice when God called her, and just in advance of the coronavirus restrictions. Perhaps she had a quiet word with God (or threatened him) and warned him but one way or another, Margaret’s passing pipped the ensuing restrictions.

Not a woman who wanted fussing over, the family celebrated her life with a night of chat and memories at a family home, and afterwards her funeral service, teas and snacks were hosted in Mick Murphy’s at the Square.

A straight talker, hard worker, and family woman, the late Margaret Deegan, one of a kind. May she rest in peace, amen.

The Deegan family would like to thank all who supported Margaret during her illness; to friends, nursing and medical staff all – your support and kindness was most appreciated.

Rose Barrett O’Donoghue