Lives Remembered

Cecilia McConvey: 'Face of Clonard' was confidant to many

Cely McConvey worked at Clonard Monastery for more than a decade

CECILIA McConvey was often fondly described as 'the face of Clonard'.

She was a receptionist at the famous monastery in west Belfast for more than a decade, but the job entailed much more than answering phones and handling Mass cards.

Highly regarded for her dedication and commitment, 'Cely' became trusted with knowledge of daily life and the many varied activities at Clonard, both front of house and behind the scenes.

She was the person who greeted visitors to the Redemptorist community, including some sensitive contacts in the years leading up the Good Friday Agreement.

It was not until later in life that she give a hint of her experiences and the talks that were quietly going on.

She made many dear friends at Clonard and would say how she always felt she'd played her own small and discrete part in the peace process.

Cely was born in Lagan Street in the Markets area of Belfast in 1937 to Cecilia and Nicholas Mauger and had two sisters, Betty and Kathleen, and a brother, Gerard.

The family later moved to Harrogate Street off the Falls Road, a few minutes' walk from Clonard.

The girls attended the Convent of Mercy primary school in Sussex Place and later Fortwilliam College.

Their father was an accounts clerk for the bookmaker Jim Rice and the family had a comfortable life.

Cely was still at primary school when the Belfast blitz happened but Nicky would arrange for a taxi to take the family immediately to their cottage, Riverside, in Killough, Co Down.

They spent every summer there and Cely made many friends. It was also where she met her husband to be, Gerry McConvey, whose family would also flee Belfast and their corner shop on Seaforde Street for their own house in Killough.

They married on September 30 1963 in St Paul's Church on the Falls Road and went on to have five children, Peter, Claire, Carmel, Nicholas and Gerard, whom Cely would often refer to as "my five".

Cely and Gerry were among the first residents of Riverdale in west Belfast and spent just six days short of 53 years together there.

Cely loved to work and spent many happy years with the drinks merchant RP Cully & Co; sports supplier Jackie Cummings; Boots; and, most notably, at Clonard Monastery.

She was a trusted confidant and help to many during her life, something her family only discovered after her death.

She also did her bit for the Riverdale residents association and with a few close friends was one of the original ‘Charlie's angels' at St Michael the Archangel Church during Fr Charlie Agnew's time as parish priest, helping get the chapel ready on a Friday night for the weekend Masses.

Cely was known and loved by many. In fact, a short trip to the shops would regularly turn into a full day's outing because she'd meet and stop with so many people to chat.

She was immensely proud of her five children and 10 grandchildren and with her great sense of fun, family gatherings revolved around her and her stories. She was without doubt the centre of attention.

Cely McConvey, who died on September 24 last year, is very dearly remembered as a loving, hard-working and devoted wife, mother, sister and grandmother.

Her first anniversary will be remembered at 12pm Mass tomorrow in St Michael the Archangel, Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Become a subscriber and get full access

Lives Remembered