Anne McMenamin: A life spent serving the community
SINCE her passing on May 13, I have heard many wonderful tributes paid to Anne McMenamin.
She has been described as a great woman, a lovely personality, a people’s person, grounded, and capable.
Her story began in Montiagh, near Ederney, Co Fermanagh, in a townland called Rottenmountain – a mistranslation of the beautiful Irish name ‘Rath Tóin’, meaning the bottom ringfort.
Born in 1944, she was one of six children of Dennis and Kathleen Gormley and had two sisters, Mary (RIP) and Sally, and three brothers, Harry, Danny and Gerry.
She grew up on the family farm where she first became acquainted with the natural world and throughout her life she took a keen interest in protecting and enhancing the environment.
Anne went to the local Montiagh Primary School and then the old Technical School (now Fermanagh College) in Enniskillen, cycling the four miles to catch the 7.40am bus from Ederney.
I first met Anne on the school bus all those years ago. I remember there was some competition among the boys about who would sit beside this attractive girl.
After secondary school Anne opted for nursing and trained in Altnagelvin and Glasgow. She returned to work in the Royal in Belfast and Ulster hospital in Dundonald.
In 1971 Anne went off to Canada. While she enjoyed her time abroad she was a home-bird at heart and when she came home for a holiday in 1973 she never went back.
She spotted an advertisement for a district nurse in Fermanagh and got the job. She travelled all around the county attending to the sick and housebound, including six years in Lisnaskea during a very troubled time.
In 1973, Anne married Dermot McMenamin who was a teacher in St Comhgalls in Lisnaskea (now St Kevin’s). They went on to have three of a family – Áine, Ciarán and Róisín.
During her time in Lisnaskea she was first on the scene of a terrible road accident involving Donegal’s Jim McGuinness and his brother, Mark. Sadly Mark died in the crash.
Later, while based in the Belleek area, she lived with Frank and the late Helen O’Shea at Roscor bridge. She had a lucky escape on one occasion when the bridge was blown up and the windows came crashing in around them.
She would also help out in the Erne hospital on the day of the bomb on Remembrance Sunday in 1987.
In 1990 Anne was appointed nursing manager for Co Fermanagh and moved to the health centre in Enniskillen. She remained in that post until her retirement in 2008.
Anne was involved in a number of charitable and voluntary organisations and after retiring, she worked one day a week in the St Vincent de Paul shop. She helped with palliative care travel for cancer patients and counselled people who were bereaved.
She loved to travel and saw much of Europe, America and Australia.
?As well as attending Irish language classes she was an active member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, travelling all over the country to fleadhanna and to set dances.
She encouraged her own children to take an interest in Irish music and culture. Her son, Ciarán McMenamin, is a well-known actor and highly regarded author, while Áine and Róisín are accomplished musicians.
While Anne made a huge contribution to many aspects of life in her native Fermanagh, she did not like any publicity or fuss.
She was a deeply spiritual person and a woman of faith who believed in the dignity of all human beings and the sacredness of creation. She was a woman with strong convictions and deeply-held principles. Her whole life was based on respect for everyone and every living thing.
Anne was a very special woman and a wonderful friend who spent a life serving the community of Fermanagh and did so much good for so many people.
The large turnout at her funeral Mass in St Michael’s, Enniskillen and the cemetery in Montiagh showed just how much she was loved and appreciated.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dilis.
Anne’s months mind Mass will be celebrated in St Michael's on Saturday July 2 at 6pm.
Fr Joe McVeigh