Michael McKiernan: 'His was a personality that didn't fade'
MICHAEL McKiernan, a man who gave so much to the town he loved so well, died on May 3 2021.
His life was lived and his family reared in Kilrea, a town which now reflects upon the many acts large and small through which he contributed to the fabric of the place.
Born in May 1944, son of Annie and John McKiernan and brother of John, Tom and Ann, his was not an easy path.
His father died when he was just 15 and his mother exactly a year later.
Michael, still merely a teenager, was left to carry on the family funeral and drapery business, first established in 1882.
His compassion and support have helped many grieving families. Yet it is not only for his empathy and understanding that Michael was held in such esteem. He was well known as a man of great wit and merriment.
The difficult times during the Troubles left no bitterness or hatred. Michael was always able to see his way through the darkness and get back to the joy.
And music was part of that joy. Born with natural rhythm, Michael was a ‘mover and shaker’ on the dance floor, the Marian Hall thronged with females hoping for a jive.
Those fortunate enough to have heard his solo singing of Oh Holy Night at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve will also remember those occasions with tears in their eyes.
He sang as first tenor with The Seven Towers Male Voice Choir for over 30 years. He enjoyed the camaraderie and was an important contributor to its success.
He was a strong swimmer, an enthusiastic bridge player and a regular member of the town’s Badminton Club - always adding to the craic and revelling in the sociability of every occasion.
And how he loved his native Kilrea and felt immensely proud to be involved in The Fairy Thorn activities which unearthed the history and unique heritage of his historic town.
As Michael aged and some of his pursuits became more sedentary it was said that you could set your watch by his daily walk of the town’s streets when he would buy the paper, go to the post office and continue to his beloved town library. An avid reader all his life, he almost exhausted the stock of the small Kilrea library.
His was a personality that didn’t fade. Even after his tracheostomy, Michael made every effort to communicate, engaging with everyone and always having a story, a laugh, a smile.
It would be remiss not to mention his impeccable dress sense - always immaculately groomed and just one of the many reasons the phrase 'He’s a perfect gentleman' became synonymous with him.
As a funeral director much was expected in terms of decorum and respectability. But Michael was able to balance the sensitivities of his professional role with his natural inclination to see the wondrous side of life and to celebrate its beauty.
The tributes paid to him are very much appreciated and treasured by all the family.
Michael is survived by his wife Eily (Alice), children Sue-Anne, Gregory, Michael Óg, and Emer, his 10 grandchildren who gave him great joy, and a town where he will be sorely missed and long remembered.