Lives Remembered

Tilly Cash: An ordinary, extraordinary woman who leaves legacy of kindness and love

SOME people lead extraordinary lives. Others find themselves in extraordinary situations.

But actually the extraordinary can be found every day in the 'ordinary' stories of those around us.

Those who make sacrifices to raise loving families in troubled times. Those who show strength and courage through illness or adversity. Those who inspire and spread joy through their example and attitude to life.

And so it was fitting that Tilly Cash, an ordinary but extraordinary mum, granny, sister, aunt and best friend from north Belfast, found herself the unexpected subject of a mural a few years ago.

One of her wedding photos was recreated over a wall on North Queen Street as part of a community project celebrating the history and people of the New Lodge area.

Tilly pictured beside the mural on North Queen Street of her wedding photo

Tilly - Matilda Jane - was the first child born to Tommy and Jinny Moreland of nearby Lepper Street in June 1934.

She had many happy childhood memories growing up in No 51, where she was soon joined by four sisters and two brothers.

Kindness and faith motivated the Morelands and this goodness and generosity of spirit was also to be the guiding force in Tilly’s life.

She was five years old when the Second World War broke out and was evacuated to the far-away fields of Moneynick.

When she returned she became a reluctant pupil at Star of the Sea, and left at 14 to become a doffer in Barbour’s Linen Mill.

At 16 Tilly joined the drama group in St Patrick’s Youth Club and it was during a trip to Waterfoot that she was to meet Stevie Cash, a handsome but shy young man from Cocklestown.

They toured the Glens in a borrowed Ford car and before long were a couple, frequenting the pictures and the dance halls.

They were married in St Patrick’s, Donegall Street in 1956 and settled down in Pim Street in the New Lodge. A year later a baby girl, Marie, was born.

Tilly and Stevie Cash on their wedding day in August 1956

As time went on there was no sign of baby number two and Tilly, growing worried, called on the intervention of St Jude.

The patron saint of hopeless cases duly came up trumps but by the time of the seventh Cash baby - one of them named Stephen Jude - he had to be given the sack.

Tilly with her children (from left to right) Marie, Stephen Jude, Joseph, Michael, Paddy, Teresa and Kevin, celebrating her 80th birthday at Belfast Castle

With Pim Street bursting at the seams, the family moved up the road to Ponsonby.

Many good times were had and plenty of laughter too. Neighbours and friends made in Newington were to last a lifetime.

The beautiful green Glens also kept calling Tilly back to a world free from the Troubles and long summers were spent in Red Bay caravan park.

Her talents were eclectic and numerous, from baking buns and scones to Halloween dumplings and her famous apple tarts, as well as knitting baby coats by the dozen.

Flower arranging was another forte and the Holy Family altar society was a grateful beneficiary over 36 years.

She was also a proud lifelong member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association.

It seemed there was nothing Tilly couldn’t do and she credited the power of prayer for getting through all life’s trials and tribulations.

Over the years she gathered a plethora of prayer books, novenas, memory cards and rosaries; it was the first thing she turned to in the morning and the last thing at night.

Losing her dear Stevie suddenly in 1994 was a terrible blow but in true Tilly spirit she dusted herself down and got on with it.

"You can be sad but not for long", she would say. In time she would be dancing again.

As the clan expanded further she had much to do; preparing for all the weddings, the births of her 13 grandchildren and babysitting too.

It was time to downsize and she moved to Shandarragh Park where she would live until the end of her days.

Tilly in the morning with her Irish News and a cup of tea

Tilly loved her holidays and once a year travelled to Enniscrone with her sisters and their husbands for seaweed baths and Daniel O’Donnell concerts.

Pilgrimages to Knock and Lough Derg were also annual events and Tilly looked forward to the praying, the singing, the chatting and the laughing in equal amounts.

There was no holding her back even after two hip replacements, as she continued to dance in St Kevin’s Hall each Tuesday night.

She also loved Thursday morning yoga classes and Wednesdays with the Dusty Boots line dancing crew at New Lodge’s Reccy.

With all her family settled, Tilly’s heart swelled with pride and love - it was a job well done.

She left the world suddenly but what a legacy she bequeathed - kindness, love and generosity, faith and many, many good deeds.

Tilly Cash died aged 85 on March 24 last year. An ordinary woman, an extraordinary life.

Marie, Stephen Jude, Joseph, Michael, Paddy, Teresa and Kevin Cash

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