One of Gaoth Dobhair’s best known personalities, Mary Ferry, Coshclady, Bunbeg, passed away to her reward on Christmas Eve.
Mary (née Mooney), was a daughter of the late Frank Mooney and Rose (née O’Donnell) Mooney. The second youngest of the family she was born on the 2nd November, 1918.
At the tender age of 18 she went to London to train as a nurse, and after graduating she went on to study for midwife at Sunderland. After graduating she spent some time working in hospitals around London. During the war she worked at Albert Docks and although bombs caused extensive damage to buildings in the vicinity, her workplace was unscathed.
After working in London for a few years she decided to return home, and married Dunlewey native Bernard Ferry. She worked in Lifford, Donegal town, Letterkenny and Creeslough before taking up the post of district nurse in Gaoth Dobhair in 1947.
She worked with the late Dr. Con Carr and the late Dr. Paddy Delap at the Bunbeg Dispensary. Nurse Mooney travelled the length and breadth of the parish, and to offshore islands, in all weather to tend to young and old in their homes. Her job was not 9-to-5; rather, she was on duty for 24 hours. At that time home births were the order of the day and she attended many hundreds of births in the area. She served the community well for an uninterrupted 43 years.
Many stories were told at the time of her wake. She slept in the upper bedroom of the home in which she was born. At that time, people would call to her home during the middle of the night to summon her help with the delivery of a baby. It was common practice for people to knock on her bedroom room and she would get up and pull down the sash window to get details about their requirements.
On one occasion when she attended a birth in the parish, the proud dad pulled out a drawer from a chest of drawers and with tender care placed the infant child in it. After a short time, and while tending to the mother of the newborn, she looked at the father of the child and said that he better get another drawer as another child was about to be born.
Mary often told of the time she was going to the birth of a child on an island. She was travelling in a curragh and after some time at sea noticed water coming into the curragh. She immediately informed the curragh man, who in turn advised her to cover the hole at the bottom of the boat with one of her fingers. In the initial years Mary’s only mode of transport was a bicycle. She afterwards secured a bicycle operated by a small engine.
Nurse Mooney was a people person and a kind-hearted woman. In his homily at her funeral Mass, Fr. Brian Ó Fearraigh, CC, said that she lived to love and loved to live. He said the most important aspects of her life were family, faith and fun, and said she was a woman of profound faith. She was highly respected by everyone who knew her and she will be fondly remembered.
Her funeral mass was celebrated in St. Mary’s Church, Derrybeg on Tuesday 27th December. The main celebrant was Fr. Brian Ó Fearraigh, CC and Séiplíneach Phobal Scoil Ghaoth Dobhair, and concelebrating priests were An Dr. Ró Oirmh. Pádraig Ó Baoighill, PP, Gaoth Dobhair, and Fr. Donnchadh Ó Baoill, CC, Cnoc Fola. Among the gifts brought to the altar were her rosary beads and a births registrar book, which she used while working in the nursing profession. Her funeral was one of the largest seen in the parish for some time. Interment took place afterwards in Magheragallon cemetery.
She was predeceased by her husband, Bernard Ferry, also by her son, Frank, 47, who tragically died in a works accident not far from his home in December 1998. She is survived by two sons, Michael and Brian; daughters, Rosemary, Bríd, Eibhlín, Marian, Mairéad and Gráinne; in-laws, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, relatives and many friends.
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh do anam uasal a Mhary.