Gone to rest in the arms of her angels

'BEAN UASAL': Eileen McKeaney


There is nothing quite like a neighbour who is kind, good and full of grace.

They are precious because it is something that's neither bottled nor bought and really is a gift from the gods in rare moments.

Those of us lucky enough to have known Eileen McKeaney (89), of Cloghore, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, will never forget the lovely smile, the quip, or the simple but deep delight she took in the really important things in life.

Or the way this real lady could put across her point of view gently but still loved a joke, with that unique ringing peal of laughter that showed that life should be enjoyed as well as endured. Eileen, who died last Saturday, always knew who she was and never forgot where she was from.

This 'bean uasal' cooked, sewed and made flowers grow as naturally as her five children at Number 6 Marian Terrace. Her family were her world to the last when she said goodbye in the Sheil hospital after a stroke in the past few weeks. Her faith literally knew no bounds and Eileen was cruelly tested after losing her much loved daughter Eileen Og (1977) and the forever young Fionnuala (2000). These were true thorns in the heart but she did not despair and got on her bicycle to go to Mass in St Patrick's, Belleek every day to mourn and pray for their immortal souls.

An avid reader, especially of the Bible, Eileen had a photographic memory, a telling turn of phrase and was a sweeper up of strays.

Like St Francis she loved all God's creatures equally and McKeaneys was a haven for wandering dogs and cats which were treated just as well as humans. Eileen and her late husband Joe had a cow (which eileen milked), hens, ducks, turkeys and even goats for a while in

their home in Cloghore and she also grew every sort of vegetable. Her garden was her true delight and we remember the explosion of dahlia, gladioli and tulips in front of McKeaneys as we played on the green, where Donegal were always the victors in those sweltering 1960s and 1970s summers.

Born Eileen McClean in Edenderry, near Derry city in 1924, her family moved to Stranorlar where they ran a newsagents. Eileen met her husband at a ceili in Bundoran and they married in 1948.

They lived in Ballyshannon, Killeen and Corlea before coming to Marian Terrace in 1954.

Joe passed away in 2006. He worked in Belleek Pottery for 44 years and was a lively spirit, like his own lady who now rests with him and their two daughters in Belleek... in the arms of her angels. Deepest sympathy to daughters Myra and Roisin, son Joseph, sisters Myra and Brigid and extended family, friends and neighbours.

Gerry McLaughlin


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