29 March 2007 Edition
Patsy McMahon — A Tribute
Former Sinn Féin Councillor Patsy McMahon was a strong family and community figure who had a passionate belief in the cause of a united Ireland. He did not ask for thanks and was not in it for self-gain.
Patsy died at the age of 74 on 26 January 2007 after a lengthy illness. He is survived by his wife Margaret, four sons, and five of his six daughters. His beloved daughter Margaret pre-deceased him and had been troubled with disability and ill health in her short life of 18 years. Patsy is also survived by his brother Brian and his sister Nan. Their brother Michael pre-deceased them and their parents died when Patsy was young.
Patsy served on Omagh District Council between 1989 and 2001. His strength was effective constituency work at local level in Mid-Tyrone. The maintenance of rural roads and attempts to secure planning permission for local families were issues which were closest to his heart and he often acted in the role of quiet peacemaker, even in family situations, when he was called on.
A diligent, hard-working representative Patsy was very good at making friendships with Councillors from other Parties. He was a life-long Irish republican who consistently held Officer Board positions in both Sinn Féin and the Tyrone National Graves Association, adapting skilfully to the role of either Chairman or Treasurer.
The Easter Rising Commemoration in Carrickmore was hugely important to Patsy McMahon and he would be up at the crack of dawn to make sure that the National Flag was in place in the Garden of Remembrance. Patsy was particularly proud to have led the stewarding operation at the funeral in Galbally of Hunger striker, Martin Hurson.
It was a measure of the McMahon family’s own sense of republicanism that Patsy’s funeral was held over to the Monday to accommodate republicans who attended the Special Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in January. Patsy made many friends in the Republican Movement, great men like Joe Carty from Dungannon and Tommy O’Neill from Cappagh. Patsy was traditional in his own way but kept himself fully informed of recent political developments and was expressly supportive of Sinn Féin’s political direction.
If any man had the support of a loving family, Patsy was that man. He had a brilliant relationship, for example, with each and everyone of his 26 grandchildren. When his great grandchildren came along too and Patsy who was always young at heart treasured them. This is where his soft and affectionate side was shown. His sons and daughters competed in the rota to attend to Patsy in his final weeks and days. It had been a real highlight when Patsy was able to walk his youngest daughter Lorraine up the aisle on 25 August last year despite his deteriorating condition.
And, of course, he married the love of his life, Margaret and she was totally devoted to him in illness and in health.
In his normal working life, Patsy was a digger driver and worked in the quarrying industry. He lived and worked in Belfast for almost ten years.
He had a great love of Irish music and played the button key accordion himself with distinction, often providing the background music for Scor competitors from An Charraig Mhor CLG. In many ways, Patsy was an ultimate Carrickmore man.
Patsy McMahon is greatly missed by his family, friends and neighbours. He was part of a close-knit community in the townland of Clare and his death followed quickly on the death of his close friend and neighbour, John McGurk.
Pat Doherty MP delivered the oration at Patsy’s funeral in Carrickmore and he touched the hearts of everyone present when he said that “Patsy is up there now with wee Margaret sitting on his knee.”
Bore illness with dignity
Everyone knows that Patsy McMahon bore his illness with characteristic dignity. There are issues of medical competence which have not yet been resolved and Patsy was prepared to share his own personal suffering with medical experts in the hope that other sufferers might be helped in time.
Patsy’s family and friends will remember his slagging about football on the television and his very individual sense of humour. His family can speak also of his strong religious faith.
Patsy’s acquaintances and constituents will remember him as a calm and modest man who worried for them and who was always available at the end of a phone. They will remember Patsy being held at the roadside and being taken away to Gough Barracks when he was needed at home for his family.
Go ndéana Dia trocaire ar a anam.