Margaret made a significant impact on the lives of many

April 14th, 2020 10:10 PM

By Jackie Keogh

The late Margaret Ryan of North Street, Skibbereen. (Photo: Michael O'Sullivan)

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THE premise of Mitch Albom’s best-selling book, ‘The Five People You Meet In Heaven’ is that one person – without even knowing it – can have a significant impact on the lives of others.

Margaret Ryan of North Street, Skibbereen, and her late husband, Seamus Ryan, did not have children yet throughout their lives they played a positive role in the lives of countless others.

Margaret died on Saturday, April 4th, and it is more than a little poignant to note that she passed away on the same day as their wedding anniversary, and the same day that Seamus passed away six years before.

The synchronicity is fact not fiction, but, as a devotedly religious woman, friends are taking comfort in that ‘she must surely be looking to meet her eternal reward in the company of the man she loved for 50 years.’

Margaret Ryan contributed to Skibbereen and West Cork life in terms of the arts and the church. She also worked for a time at The Southern Star in administration under the late Joe O’Regan. Most people will be aware that Margaret was one of the founding members of the Skibbereen Geriatric Society and it is through this organisation that she brought comfort and care, as well as lightness and joy, to people.

Everyone will attest that Margaret was a lovely, thoughtful and gentle woman. And to call her to mind is to see that quick, sweet smile she bestowed on everyone, including her nieces and nephews.

She was a very staunch member of the Legion of Mary and attended its meetings every Monday night. She did hospital visits, and visited those in the nursing home at Baltimore Road, offering them the kindness of her company.

Both Seamus and Margaret founded The Legion of Mary Newsletter that was sent out four times a year to more than 400 people
throughout the world.

It was a very important part of their work and brought the news of births, marriages, deaths, as well as the highlights of what was happening locally, to the diaspora.

As a member of the Geriatric Society, she was very involved too in Cara House, a former residential home at Market Street, and helped greatly in the preparations to welcome President Mary Robinson to the official opening.

Both Margaret and Seamus Ryan were presented with the Benemerenti Medal from the Pope for their exceptional service to the church and their community. For one person to get it is an honour, but it is exceedingly rare for it to be bestowed on a couple.

Margaret was a founding member of the Children of Mary, a member of the Altar Society, a member of the Flower Club, and, in her later years, a member of the Bridge Club, of which she was made its president three years ago.

She loved outings and organised lots of them, including annual pilgrimages to Knock. A close friend said: ‘Margaret was a holy woman and she was very good fun.’

In that regard – and the couple’s involvement in the pantomime group – it helped that she looked like Margaret Thatcher and could do her to a T.

The Covid-19 crisis means that the funeral service for Margaret Ryan will have the same sense of quietness and reserve that she habitually demonstrated throughout her life. But The Southern Star obituary is just one of the ways to acknowledge that her work will live on, and that her memory will be honoured.

Sadly, Margaret was predeceased just over a week before her own death by her brother, Charles Hegarty of Gortnaclohy Heights, Skibbereen. He is survived by his wife Kathleen and their children Cormac, Ann, Finola and Donal, and grandchildren.

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