Irene Mooney: 'Auntie Irene' always had thoughts for others
IRENE Mooney was known simply as “Auntie Irene” to many in the village of Bessbrook, Co Armagh.
While she never married, children were never far from her home with 29 nieces and nephews to look out for.
Irene could recall every birthday without the need for the electronic prompts that exist today.
Her 'family' also extended to countless pupils who passed through the gates of St Paul's High School, where she worked as a secretary for more than 20 years.
She was the go-to person when both staff and children needed a helping hand and she never had favourites - everyone was a priority for Irene.
Her years in St Paul's were possibly her happiest and the enjoyment of being a member of the team was clear to see in her enthusiasm for all tasks, great or small.
Irene was born in 1943, a daughter of Johnny and Maureen Mooney, and grew up with her siblings Pat, Rae, Ita, Kathleen, Ann and Jackie in Quarry Row, moving later to Fearon's Terrace, Green Road.
Like many in the area, she started her working life in Bessbrook's linen mill. She then moved to the Lewis Styles women's clothing factory, eventually taking on a managerial role.
Irene always had an eye for a business opportunity, from selling factory wares at Newry Market to making flags to be sold at the side of the road by nephews and nieces when Armagh were flying high in 1977, 2002 and 2003.
She had an outstanding gift for sewing and knitting, creating Aran jumpers with detail that could adorn the finest shops.
She also spent many late nights preparing dresses for feiseanna and Scór na nÓg. And like Mary Poppins, she would usually be on hand on the day with her well-stocked sewing box.
The GAA's ethos of community and caring was exemplified by Irene and her involvement with the Carrickcruppen club.
Any football or Scór event was a joy for her and it was not unusual to see her washing line adorned with a football kit from a club or school team.
Throughout her life she had a dedication to religion, praying novenas for anyone who fell into ill health or was in need of support. Candles were usually burning in the house for one exam or another.
The Irish News was also always present in the house and Irene was a regular competition entrant, with a knack of winning regularly.
In 1990 her sister Kathleen passed away and she helped care for her youngest children, Sean and Catherine, in her home with her mother Maureen.
Just a month before Irene's death on July 9 2016, a celebration of her 72nd birthday was held for family and friends.
She left her sick bed and spent a few hours creating beautiful memories as the gathering was entertained with bagpipes and a guitar.
Her favourite song got more than one rendition that night as The Boys From The County Armagh rang out on the Green Road.
The family are so thankful for Irene's life, which was lived with so much thought for others.