Siobhan McQuade: 'She did what made her happy and what brought happiness to those whose lives she touched'
SIOBHAN McQuade was like a dancing flame – everyone was drawn to her.
She loved to dance; she loved to sing; she loved and was loved by many in return.
The poet Henry David Thoreau has written of wanting ‘to live deep’, to ‘suck out all the marrow of life’, and that is exactly what Siobhan did. She lived a full, whole and joyous life.
Family was everything to Siobhan.
She was the beloved daughter of Gerry and Eilish, sister of Geraldine, Aidan and Eilish, and aunt to Niamh, Eimear and Aodhan.
Having been taught by her father, ‘Master McQuade’, at Belleeks school in Co Armagh, she studied teaching at St Mary’s in Belfast before taking up posts at St Mary’s Star of the Sea Nursery in the city, Killowen Primary School and Dromintee PS.
Siobhan had a wonderful way of engaging with children and a deep appreciation for their curiosity, encouraging them to explore and interact using their imagination. Indeed, exploring was nothing new to her.
From Cuba to Clare, Australia to Ardmore, she was a pioneer of exotic places and the “queen of posh hotels” in Ireland.
But most important to Siobhan was her annual pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Irish Pilgrimage Children’s Trust, a journey she made every Easter for 15 years.
She had a great devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes and St Bernadette. It was this faith which provided her with solace and comfort when she was diagnosed with cancer.
During recovery from her first surgery, art therapy via Cancer Focus also provided a creative outlet.
She enrolled in a foundational course in Southern Regional College, and was accepted to study a BA in art at Ulster University, before completing a masters degree.
Renowned for her trendy shoes, beautiful coats, and with a great eye for quirky jewellery, it probably wasn’t surprising that she became an artist.
Siobhan also had a great love for Irish culture. She was a member of the successful Killeavey All Ireland Scór Ballad Group and her solo party piece was Danny Boy.
She was well versed in Irish dancing but she was equally adept at more exotic dance forms which she developed during her time at the Sacred Heart Grammar School, Newry.
Given the chance Siobhan would try anything, from learning the flute, or surfing, to qualifying as a yoga teacher.
She squeezed every ounce of joy out from life, and made the most of whatever came her way. If it is true that life is what you make of it, then Siobhan made the most of hers.
Sadly, it was a life that was to be cut short when her cancer returned.
However, Siobhan, a woman of great strength, amazing faith, an infectious smile, a hearty laugh, and a big heart, dealt with her illness with such courage, hope and positivity.
She refused to let cancer prevent her being who she was. She was an inspiration.
Siobhan passed away peacefully in the Southern Area Hospice on September 23 2019.
Her life was a testament to her; she did what made her happy and what brought happiness to those whose lives she touched.
Suaimhneas síoraí tabhair di, a Thiarna, agus go lonraí solas suthain uirthi.