Mary McCallion: a special wee woman

Jim and Mary McCallion.
Jim and Mary McCallion.

‘A wee woman, but a big light.’ This was how Fr. Joe Gormley described Mary McCallion (87), from Creggan, who passed away last week.

Up until a few weeks ago.Mary, a mother of five, was full of life and joy. She was, however, full of love until the end. One of the final things she did was to ask a priest to write a love note to her husband of 57 years, Jim.

Mary’s wake took place in High Park, where her devoted daughter, also named Mary, resided. It was the house in which she raised her five children through the ‘Troubles’ - a street full of loving neighbours and friends; a place brimming with so many memories.

The former Tillie and Henderson factory girl had friends far and wide.

Many people spoke of the way Mary talked to them, holding their hand, deeply interested, placing value in them and making them feel special. She made everyone feel like they were No. 1.

Generous and always providing, her son Jim observed. “She’d give you her last and make you feel like you were doing her a favour taking it.”

Mary’s other son, Joe, described her as “a daughter of compassion.’ She never turned anyone away.

Sons, grandsons, her brother and friends all carried Mary to her beloved Creggan Chapel and there was a poignant pause outside Mary and Jim’s home at Iniscairn Road.

Fr. Joe Gormley, a relatively new friend of Mary’s, spoke of her love of and dedication to living the Gospel .

He said her passing would be a great loss to the community of Creggan.

Mary’s husband Jim, never seen without her at daily Mass, was solitary - yet strong and composed - as he sat beside his wife for the final time.

Mary has 23 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren who will celebrate her life and pass on her messages.

The graveside was peaceful. A new plot next to Lecky Road, Mary’s first home. Jim sat in a chair as the final prayers were said. The family held hands.

Her death is still surreal for those that loved her. Her absence will leave a huge gap in this life and many hearts are heavy and a little broken.

Her family feel blessed that she reached the age of 87. Her example of love will live on through them and the hundreds of hearts she touched in her humble, giving way.

My ‘Granny Mc’ is survived by her husband Jim; her daughters, Catriona, Ann and Mary; her sons, Jim and Joe and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.