There was deep sadness in the Twin Towns on Thursday morning last when news emerged of the death of one of the most respected members of the community, a woman who was described by all as a “modest and elegant woman”.
Mary McGowan (née Sharkey) of Chestnut Grove, Main Street, Stranorlar, Donegal and originally from Mullaghaduff, passed away peacefully after a long illness bravely borne, surrounded by her family. She was 77.
Mary was a native of Mulaghduff and after qualifying as a primary school teacher in Carysfort,she came to teach in Meenareagh NS and later in St. Mary’s in Stranorlar where she was to remain for the remainder of her life.
Mary had met her husband, Con, who was one of the few fruit and vegetable distributors in the county in Mullaghduff.
The late Mrs. McGowan was highly regarded and had a reputation as being the best teacher in the school, and one that gave great care and attention to all her pupils – they were all her adopted family.
When it came to teaching she didn’t need a book, it came from a passion and conviction; she had a great interest in people and nothing was insignificant. Everybody was important, but her family were always number one.
Her funeral Mass in the Church of Mary Immaculate in Stranorlar was celebrated by Fr. Kieran McAteer, assisted by Fr. Patsy Arkinson and Fr. Padráig O Baoighill.
Fr. McAteer said: “This morning we celebrated the First Holy Communion of 61 pupils of St. Mary’s School. In a way it is strangely appropriate that we are all gathered here now to celebrate Mary’s life on that same day. Mary was a very important part of St. Mary’s, a person who had such a great influence on hundreds of pupils in her time there.”
He added: “Today is a sad time for her children, but they have their memories of a mother who took a deep interest in each and every one of them up until two days ago. She fought her illness with great dignity and her family were always at her side morning, noon and night. They were there for her to the very end.”
A woman who loved music and the Irish language, Mary would have been extremely happy with the beautifully hymns sung her today by her great friend and neighbour Daniel O’Donnell.
Predeceased by her husband Con, Mary is survived by her sons Paul, H.P., Connie, Martin and Brian, daughters Noreen, Gabrielle and Roisin; sisters, Patsy, Margaret, Nell, Noreen, Sheila, and her brother James, as well as the large extended McGowan and Sharkey families.