Lives Remembered

Tricia Magennis: 'She is forever mine and I am forever hers'

 Stephen Magennis described his wife Tricia as the 'love of my life'

TRICIA Magennis was always at the centre of things. Always smiling, always positive, always trying to make a difference.

Kind, caring, outgoing and passionate, she loved helping others and seemed to be at the heart of all that was positive in her community.

From the Poleglass area of west Belfast, she was not just a wonderful mother to her own children but a second mum to countless others.

It would be easier to name the organisations she was not involved in, from Colin Safer Neighbourhood Project and Feile an Phobail to parent support groups, schools and youth clubs. If a volunteer was needed, she was there.

Her death from cancer aged just 41 is not only an enormous loss for her husband and children but for an entire community she championed throughout her life.

Tricia Finlay was born in 1981 and lived first in Beechmount in west Belfast before moving to Poleglass.

She was a pupil at St Kieran's Primary School and St Louise's College and loved dancing at a young girl, studying the subject at GCSE. It would be a passion throughout her life.

She was very close to her granny Pat, who lived nearby in Glenbank, and it was seeing how residents were suffering from anti-social behaviour that Tricia first became involved in community safety work, engaging with young people on the streets to help keep both them and their neighbours safe.

 Tricia was very close to her granny Pat

It was then parish priest Fr Martin Magill who introduced her to Stephen Magennis, another dedicated community activist, who would serve as a local Sinn Féin councillor for more than a decade.

They fell in love and Fr Magill married them in 2008 in Malta, where Tricia had family links on her father's side.

 Tricia and Stephen were married by Fr Martin Magill in Malta

She would become a devoted mother to their three children as well as stepson Diármuid, and loved the hustle and bustle of a house filled with all the shouts and laughter of a young family.

The front door was always open and Stephen would joke that it resembled a hotel half the time, with children constantly coming and going and many happy social occasions held in their converted garage.

 Tricia and Stephen Magennis with their children Diármuid, Gráinne, Odhrán and Meádhbh

Tricia at one stage even set up her own party planning business to put her organisational and artistic talents to good use.

In attempting to access support for her son Odhrán, she became involved in setting up support groups in the area for parents of children with autism and other needs.

When Odhrán also got involved in boxing at Gleann ABC, she was so impressed by the work of the coaches that she decided to volunteer too.

She introduced many young girls to the sport, acted as a child protection officer, was a tireless fundraiser and before her death was in the process of becoming a judge.

"She was known at the club as 'Mummy Tricia'," said Stephen.

"No matter what it was, she sorted it out and she was a help to so many kids behind the scenes. She was always there at every wheel and turn."

Tricia first began feeling unwell in early 2020 and received a diagnosis that she had cervical cancer at the start of the first lockdown.

After chemotherapy and radiotherapy she received the all-clear last year, but within weeks had begun to experience pains again and learned in June 2021 that her condition was terminal.

Throughout her illness she showed unbelievable strength and courage. She refused all pain relief and never complained and was determined she would find a way of defying the odds.

She had a strong faith and said she was not afraid to die. 

Having supported her husband closely in his political career, and stood herself as a Sinn Féin council candidate, she was so determined to vote at the assembly election in May that she left her hospital bed with oxygen to cast her own ballot as well as proxies for others.

In her final months she was also raising funds for Cancer Research.

The enormous numbers who attended her wake was evidence of how many lives she touched, as was the great support that came from family, friends, community groups, Sinn Féin and local businesses.

At her funeral, Fr Magill recalled how she was someone "so full of life, so focussed on her family and her community".

Her husband Stephen said she loved her family deeply and he has lost his confidant, best friend and soul mate.

"I have never seen anybody fight illness so hard. As Tricia put it to me, she was fighting every day to be with us as long as she could," he said.

"Life will never be the same. Now that our children were getting up, we made plans to do a lot more things together and live life to the full but it wasn't to be.

"Tricia was a very caring person and would help anybody. She was beautiful inside and out and will always be the love of my life.

"My heart is so sore and our lives will be so hard without her but she will be only a memory away. She is forever mine and I am forever hers."

Tricia Magennis died surrounded by her family on June 2. She is survived by her husband Stephen and children Diármuid, Gráinne, Odhrán and Meádhbh.

Her month's mind Mass will take place at St Luke's Church, Twinbrook at 6.30pm on July 11.

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