On Wednesday, June 27, the ‘Church of the Sacred Heart, Mountcharles was packed to capacity for the funeral of Esther Dunleavy.
Requiem Mass was concelebrated by family clergy friends, Rev Fr James Sweeney, Rev Fr Danny McBrearty, Rev Fr. Francis Ferry Mountcharles, with main celebrant Fr John Joe Duffy.
Such was the grief felt and the wide respect for the Dunleavy family, saw mourners from all areas of Ireland including representatives from several village communities, many prominent figures from the worlds of politics, GAA football, sports and business to also attend the house wake in the previous days.
The late Esther Dunleavy
In her 72nd year, Esther, was a native of Ballinakill Co. Laois. In the early 1960s as a trainee medical nurse, she arrived for summer temporary seasonal work to the then popular National Hotel, Donegal Town.
Fr. Duffy, a great friend, in his homily referred to her first week in town, a street chance meeting with then ‘husband to be’ Christy. This ‘chance meeting’ was to last for over fifty loving happy years.
Fr Duffy, also referring to her acute business acumen, told the story of one wet winter’s evening a backpacker walked into the hotel pub, sat down beside the roaring fireside. Esther had noticed him all through the evening and had not ordered any drinks or food.
Going over to him she politely asked, 'would you like a drink or meal'? He replied : “I have no money”. To which she quickly retorted, “Join the Club”!
She had a great love and interest for hurling, especially her own home area club. In the 1970s along with Christy, she ran the then successful ‘Seamount Hotel’, Mountcharles. Above the bar proudly stood a hurling stick with a Ballinakill inscription.
The couple were devoted to each other and both to their family, Michelle, Tom, Helena; daughter -in-law Ann, grandchildren Clionadh, Aoife, Annabelle.
Over the years the family laboured to build up the now very successful Texaco fuel, hot food and groceries roadside station, with Esther taking a very active role, especially in her excellent home bakery delights.
Each and everyone who ever visited the Dunleavy home, some may have arrived as a stranger, but I can guarantee left as a friend and well fed. The kettle was always on the boil and the kitchen banter flowing from all sides.
In ill health for the previous months, despite the constant love and attention from her family, this special lady with a big heart, true Christian devotion and kindness, with respect for all, sadly passed away.
As the funeral cortege was exiting the church to wind its way in Summer sunshine to the adjacent cemetery on one of the hottest days of the year, former Capitol Showband member musician Eamon Monahan gave a sentimental rendition on church organ of the old Irish song ‘The Rose of Mooncoin’, which brought a tear to the eyes of many of the congregation.
Sincere sympathies to husband Christy; daughters Michelle, Helena; son Tom and his wife Ann, grandchildren, all other relatives and friends.
‘Ar dheis De go raibh a h-anam dilis’.
- Paddy Meehan