Lives Remembered

Elizabeth McKinney: An ordinary person who performed extraordinary deeds

Elizabeth McKinney pictured during a civil rights march in Armagh city in the 1970s

‘PRAY, hope and don't worry.'

These immortal words by Saint Pio struck a real chord with Elizabeth McKinney.

Elizabeth possessed a quiet, unassuming manner. She was modest and humble but also a deep thinker who conveyed her thoughts with a gentle patience that was admired by many.

In the final years of her life she battled courageously against both depression and terminal cancer.

Elizabeth was both intelligent and astute. She knew her own mind and lived out her final days as she wished. She is greatly missed by all in her family circle.

Born in 1956, the oldest of seven McInteggart siblings, she was a proud native of Drumarg Park in Armagh city and radiated a caring, empathetic and maternal nature.

In her teenage years she loved to play camogie with the local St Brigid's club and developed strong relationships with the girls in the team.

Elizabeth also displayed great potential as a netball player at St Catherine's College.

True to her working class roots, she exhibited a dignified respect and appreciation for those in need.

She was passionate about social justice and took a very active part in the civil rights campaign in the early 1970s and '80s.

Elizabeth met her husband Eamon in typical fashion - while he was being unjustly searched by the British army on Irish Street corner, in the west of the city, she caught his eye when intervening on his behalf.

She always acted on instinct and simply would not tolerate injustice. This encounter was the birth of a partnership that would span more than 45 years and bring five children, Philip, Susan, Garry, Sean and Beth.

Married in 1976 in Knockaconey chapel, Elizabeth enjoyed a long, loving and enduring relationship with Eamon. They enjoyed going to quizzes and Elizabeth would often sing to overcome her natural shyness.

Between 1971-85 Elizabeth, along with her loyal sister Colette, worked as a garment stitcher with the Bairnswear Company based on Armagh's Lonsdale Road.

Her family remember fondly her passion for fashion. She would leave work on a Friday evening and head straight to town to discover a new fabulous frock or classy coat. Such prized possessions were then fodder for younger sisters in a large household.

A hard-working mother, Elizabeth also ensured that her own children were afforded the opportunities in life that she was denied.

She was very proud of the achievements of her five children not only in education but in working life.

Having left school at 15, Elizabeth returned to education in later life to successfully study English and sociology at Armagh technical college, so much so that one of her English essays was put forward to the local papers by her course manager.

In later life things became more difficult for her but although she struggled with depression she always found the strength to help others when needed. She nursed a number of family members through their final stages of illness.

In 2014 Elizabeth was diagnosed with lung cancer, and this illness was to be her toughest and ultimately final battle.

With typical stubbornness she embraced the fight. She found renewed strength in her loving grandchildren, the support of her family and in her belief that the angels Michael and Jude watched over her.

On July 21 Elizabeth drifted off into her long sleep. An ordinary person who performed extraordinary deeds, she will be sorely missed.

Elizabeth McKinney was always at her best when helping others. These acts of faith are best embodied by her belief in Padre Pio: “The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.”

G McKinney

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Lives Remembered