Lives Remembered

Mary 'Queenie' was mother to many and friend to all

Mary 'Queenie' Murphy pictured on her 80th birthday. Picture by Bill Smyth

Mary Murphy liked to tell the story of how she got the name "Queenie".

Born in August 1933, there were so many Marys to be christened that day in St Patrick's Church, Saul that the priest suggested to her mother she should have the name Mary Queenie, and it stuck.

Her death on August 22 was the feast of the Queenship of Mary, and Fr Gerard McCloskey told her funeral Mass in the same church that "Queenie herself would be so happy to have died on her feast day... Our Lady Queen and Mother".

"Although Queenie didn't marry and had no children, she was like a mother to so many," he said.

"She especially loved children; really she was mother to everyone, especially to those she counted as her friends; she loved to see those who would in her as she grew older come and visit her; she was genuinely interested in your welfare especially if you were sick and had a smile that would have melted your heart... you always came away glad that you had been in her company."

From Loughmoney Road in Saul, Co Down, Queenie was an only child of George and Peggy Murphy and in younger years played camogie for the local club, at the same time former South Down MP Eddie McGrady was a footballer.

She had a variety of jobs over the years, from usher in the Grand Cinema in Downpatrick, to the town's tax office, and baking scones in the tea shop at Castleward.

She was also part of the civil rights movement, marching in Downpatrick and Belfast.

Fr McCloskey said he first met Queenie 32 years ago as a newly-ordained curate in Saul and when he was transferred to Belfast she would phone him occasionally and regale him with stories about innocent goings-on.

"She would always leave me with a smile on her face; she had such a way of telling a story."

He added that he was delighted to renew their friendship when he was appointed back to Lecale, this time to Ardglass, where Mary was a resident of Ardview care home for more than a decade.

Survived by cousins, a Mass in Queenie's memory will be celebrated in St Patrick's Church, Saul on October 14 at 7pm.

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Lives Remembered