Carrie Kane: Whirlwind of energy with can-do spirit touched countless lives in her 97 years
CARRIE Kane was a whirlwind of energy and activity, whose passion for people and life made her a hugely popular character across Newry and beyond.
Her can-do spirit could be traced back to her teenage years, when she took on responsibility for her five young siblings following the premature death of her father.
Later she would raise her own family - two of whom would become All-Ireland legends with Down - while combining work at her brothers' drapery store with a role organising activities for retired people in the area.
When she reluctantly retired herself she continued to pack her days, travelling widely and supporting the various interests of her extended family.
Even in her nineties she would make the long walk several times a week to the Canal Court Hotel to catch up with some of her many friends.
The huge attendance at her funeral was testament to the impact of an extraordinary woman who touched countless lives over her 97 years.
Carrie (Kathleen) was born in 1922 and grew up in the landmark 'Four-mile house' at Donaghmore on the main Newry to Belfast road.
Her father James McCartan had a quarry business and the family were relatively well-off, with Carrie enjoying a good education at Our Lady's Grammar School and Wallace Academy in Newry.
However, family life was shattered when James fell from a horse in 1935.
His death affected Carrie's mother Catherine badly and left the 13-year-old with much of the duties of raising her sister and four young brothers as well as the household finances.
She started working life as a secretary with the Newry Mineral Water Company but at 21 married John Kane, who had a taxi and bookmaker's business in Newry.
Carrie focused her energy on rearing their six children - Thecla, Val, Mildred, Fintan, Yvonne and Damian (DJ) - but as they got older she decided to return to work and got a job at Newry and Mourne council as registrar for births, deaths and marriages.
This brought her into the lives of hundreds of families across the district, as well as providing an opportunity to showcase her beautiful handwriting.
When two of her brothers opened the McCartan Bros clothes store in Sugar Island, she came in as full-time employee to look after the books.
Carrie and John were living in Shandon Park in Newry, but she experienced tragedy again with his death in 1986.
Determined not to sit at home, she threw herself into efforts to establish a University of the Third Age branch in Newry, providing educational and social activities for retired and semi-retired people.
She would end up juggling this role with her work at McCartans' for the next 20 years.
Carrie's GAA roots go deep in Co Down and had ladies' football been available in her day, she no doubt would have made a name for herself.
She had grown up next to the Glenn GAC pitch where three of her brothers won senior championships.
Eight of the McCartan brood at one point lined out for Glenn and changed together in the family home including Carrie's cousins James and Dan, stars of Down's back-to-back All-Ireland-winning teams of 1960/61.
And it was a source of immense pride when her eldest son Val was part of the side that brought home Sam Maguire in 1968, followed by youngest child DJ in 1991 and 1994 - the latter as captain.
In later years Carrie lived at Carnagh Park near Páirc Esler and remained busy, setting off regularly on bus adventures around Europe with U3A.
Right into her nineties she continued to have her hair, nails and face done each week as she maintained an active social life.
In recent years Carrie was struck with dementia but enjoyed round-the-clock from her devoted family until her death on Christmas Day.
Carrie is survived and sadly missed by her six children, siblings Seamus, Gervase and Eilish and large family circle.
Her month's mind Mass will be celebrated at 6pm tonight at St John's Church, Glenn.