Christina Troth: 'A special person whose inspired joy in those around her'
CHRISTINA Troth was vivacious and fun-loving, with film-star good looks and a razor-sharp wit.
She was only 63 when she died on December 3 in a fire in her flat in Southampton.
Her death came as a terrible shock to her extended family back in Belfast, who will celebrate her life at a Mass in the city next week.
The family have suffered tragedy before - Tina was a young woman when her father was murdered by the Shankill Butchers, an experience that inevitably had a huge impact on her life.
She would leave Belfast for Southampton, where she married a professional golfer, raised a daughter, and led a full life.
She suffered ill health in recent years and had drifted apart from some of those she loved but no-one forgot this larger than life lady, with her dry sense of humour and love of playing tricks.
Her daughter described her as “a true force of nature” with a “kindness and generosity of heart that is rarely found in the world”.
Christina was born on Christmas Day 1958 and was one of 13 children raised by Martha and Joe Morrissey on Tyrone Street in Carrick Hill, close to Belfast city centre.
After her schooling she worked for several years at the famous Anderson and McAuley department store.
It was the 1970s and the height of the Troubles, when bombings, shootings and sectarian murder were a daily reality in Belfast.
Her father, right, was forever warning his children about the dangers of travelling home at night and he would collect Tina faithfully every day from work.
However, the 52-year-old would himself be abducted in February 1977.
Identified as Catholic after blessing himself while passing St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street, he would suffer horrific injuries at the hands of the Shankill Butchers, one of the last of the many victims of the sectarian murder gang.
Tina, like her siblings, was severely traumatised by his savage death. She eventually left for Southampton, following her sister Geraldine in search of new opportunities.
She overcame prejudices levelled at people from Northern Ireland during the Troubles and married Charlie Troth, a golfer on the PGA Tour. The marriage eventually broke down but Tina dedicated herself to raising their daughter, Tricia Lee.
She always wanted to return home, but judged that raising her daughter in Southampton would be best for her.
She held down a variety of jobs to support the family, including dipping her toes in the business world.
Tina did regularly visit Belfast, staying with her mother and introducing Tricia Lee to her home town and renewing her relationships with her brothers and sisters.
They recall the excitementeach time she flew home, looking forward to a night out or simply hearing her stories of life in Southampton.
Tina continued to work a series of jobs but her health started to give problems. She battled cancer and bowel conditions and underwent several operations to preserve her life.
Throughout all her troubles she maintained a stoic front, rarely bringing the walls down enough to let anyone see.
She was cremated at a ceremony on January 19, where her daughter described her as an “amazing human being”.
“Mum was not an uncomplicated person. She had endured more than her fair share of hard times,” she said.
“Today, however, we choose to remember her when she was at her best. A truly unique and special person whose presence radiated warmth and inspired joy in those around her.”
She said people would remember her mother’s beauty both inside and out, her smile and “her incredible and often wonderfully inappropriate sense of humor that she definitely inherited from her Belfast roots”.
“She was ferociously loyal and protective of those she cared for – and incredibly kind,” she said.
“Mum was a true force of nature that people couldn’t help but feel drawn to and fond of. Today we say thank you to mum – thank you for all the happy times and ways in which you made our days glow with warmth, full of laughter and love.”
The service ended to the strains of Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, a song Tina would sing at parties and which perfectly captured her optimistic spirit.
Friends and family also wore the colour yellow in tribute to her sunny side.
Tina’s month’s mind Mass will be celebrated at St Patrick’s Church at 1pm on Thursday, which will also mark the anniversary of her father’s death.
Predeceased by her parents, brother Paul, sister Geraldine and nephews Shane, Dessie, Paul and Terry, Tina is survived by her daughter Tricia Lee, siblings Joseph, Thomas, Martha, Noreen, Rosemary, Trisha, Margaret, Siobhan, Charlotte and Emmanuel and family circle.
Tina was the inspiration for the song Box of Life by her nephew Sean McAuley's band The Long Stay. Her idea was that life is like a series of boxes, where people can put happy or sad memories, letters, postcards or other items to revisit later. It is included here in memory of her.