Lives Remembered

Eileen McCabe: West Belfast woman departed world prematurely but left it a better place

Eileen McCabe worked tirelessly for the Society of St Vincent de Paul

THURSDAY April 4 was indeed a very sad day in the lives of all those who knew Eileen McCabe as they learned of her sudden passing after a short illness.

Eileen was laid to rest after Requiem Mass in Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in west Belfast and the large number of mourners was testimony to the respect in which she was held.

Eileen was born in Raglan Street in the Lower Falls and just as her passing aged 69 was sudden, so was her arrival into this world.

Weighing just over 2lbs, she was born months before expected to the shock of the midwife and newly-qualified doctor.

Eileen was the youngest in the family. Her mother Mina had carried 15 babies before her - eight not surviving - and she herself died suddenly when Eileen was only 15, leaving her to carry the purse strings.

She carried out her domestic duties very well while coping with her studies, even finding time to help out in various projects in her parish.

She qualified as a social worker and spent more than 30 years in this profession until a diagnosis of breast cancer forced her to retire prematurely.

Eileen battled her illness with great stoicism and as her health improved she began to look for a way to continue helping the most vulnerable and deprived in society.

This led her to volunteer with the Society of St Vincent De Paul in 2007, recognising the level of need in her beloved west Belfast.

Eileen worked tirelessly supporting those in need through her visitation with families, practical help and advice.

Her skills in social services were most valuable in this work and she also trained and initiated new SVP members.

Latterly Eileen was volunteer manager in the Vincent’s Thrift Shop in Turf Lodge.

She saw its value as more than just a shop. To Eileen it was a little community hub where people could confidentially discuss their problems over a cup of tea as well picking up a bargain.

Likewise she promoted fundraising for the child care facility above the shop. Eileen campaigned tirelessly for this, recognising its great value as a welcoming, secure place to leave children while parents could be encouraged to pursue education and work. To quote Eileen, it was “the way forward”.

Eileen may have left us all too prematurely, but she has certainly left the world a better place.

She will be sadly missed by those she helped, those she worked alongside, her friends, but most of all by her loving family. And it is to Eileen’s brothers and sisters and large family circle that we extend our deepest sympathy.

Eilish Armstrong

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Lives Remembered