Josephine McCann: End of an era with passing of Dromore's oldest resident
MANY of the visitors to Josephine McCann's wake and funeral were heard to say "It's the end of an era".
And for the town of Dromore in Co Tyrone, where she was the oldest resident, it certainly was.
Although approaching her 98th birthday, Mrs McCann was famous for her strength and resilience, having bounced back from ill health many times, even when doctors gave her no chance.
Her deep faith also helped her overcome hardship, including the deaths of two of her 14 children, and the strength to continue her live her life independently until recent times.
Josephine was born in March 1920 to John and Martha McCanney of Campsie, Omagh, one of a family of seven, and after her time at school she helped at home as well as working in Devlin's grocery shop.
She met Frank McCann, a blacksmith from Dromore, and they married in 1946. They went on to have seven sons and seven daughters – a busy house, but such big families were the norm at the time.
Josephine was even known to find the time to carry out other duties including helping the local undertaker.
Her faith meant a lot to her. She attended Mass daily and her devotion to the sacraments and the First Fridays even led to her travelling by motorcycle to confessions in the Graan, Co Fermanagh.
It was this deep faith that she turned to when she lost her son Gabriel in 1990, followed by her beloved husband six months later, and her mother Martha only a month after that.
She clung fiercely to her independence until recent times, when her increasing years meant she relied on her family circle for support.
Despite this, she still enjoyed getting out and about in the community, especially her trips to Mahon's hotel, where she took pleasure in talking to everyone she met.
Josephine and her family were again struck a blow in October last year, when her daughter Angela died suddenly weeks before her 59th birthday.
Again her faith comforted her in this dark time, but the strain of burying a second child took its toll on a spirit weakened by advancing years.
When sickness visited her again and a hospital stay was needed, doctors concluded that this would be the end of her journey here in this life.
So strong was her faith that she was not afraid, but merely looked forward to being re-united with her loved ones.
Josephine died on January 30 surrounded by her beloved family.
She is survived by her sons Eugene, John, Martin, Kevin, Frank and Brendan, daughters Monica, Patricia, Sheila, Nuala, Ita and Unagh, her brother Eugene, 49 grandchildren, 81 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.