An Appreciation: Mary Harkin (nee Monteith)

Mary was born Wednesday 28th August 1946 in Waterside Hospital. A few days old she was adopted by Lily and Joe Monteith. Mary was so proud to call them her parents. Mary had three adopted sisters Margo (RIP), Ann and Elizabeth.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 4:33 pm
Charlie Harkin pictured with his beloved wife Mary.

At six days old, Lily and Joe took her to St Columb’s Chapel, Waterside and christened her Mary Margaret Monteith. As a family the Monteiths lived in many places in the city as well as a short time in Buncrana, but 73 Lecky Road was where her fondest memories where of great neighbours and life-time friends.

She attended St Eugene’s Primary School and later St Mary’s in Creggan when it opened in 1959. She was in the school choir. She left school at 14 and worked in a couple of factories including the City.

When Wellworths came to Derry she applied and got a job in the supermarket. I can still remember the first day I saw her (I worked the butcher counter), I couldn’t take my eyes off her, she was my Derry ‘Sophia Loren’.

She loved working in Wellworths and worked on an off there until our last wain was born 1986. She was a bright light in so many ways with her humour and quick Derry one liners. One such story….

Mary and her friend Celia McAnaney who worked alongside Mary in Wellworths one day decided to go to the Life Centre as they had a notion they were expecting and they were! Eight months later they were coming out of a lift in work when a very nervous Wellworths manager asked them when did they think they would going off work and Mary piped up ‘When the pains come every 5 minutes’…said manager didn’t hang around and they were bent over laughing.

Less than four weeks later Mary and Celia both gave birth on the same day within hours of one another to their last wains, our Charlene and Celia and Bobby’s(RIP) baby boy Sean.

Mary and I were married on 30th December 1967 by the late Fr Gildea in Pennyburn Chapel. We had 10 beautiful children and Fr Gildea visited Mary in hospital for every one of our wains.

In January 1978 our son Sean Bernard was born, Sean had lack of oxygen at birth and was severely brain damaged. We tried to take Sean home a couple of times, but he needed round the clock nursing care and lived for three and a half years in the neo-natal ward in Altnagelvin Hospital. We had two more wains while Sean was alive and Mary carried them past Sean’s room on the neo natal ward til he passed away May 1981.

When the wains got older Mary joined the Legion of Mary and visited elderly and vulnerable in the community for 20 years. She was also involved in the Life office based in Derry, qualifying in counselling and offering care and support to the women that used their services. She loved her work here and volunteered for nearly 12 years attending conferences across the water.

Mary and myself were involved with the Cursillo Walk to Knock and for 16 years Mary done back up in the kitchen. The last few years that I have done the walk were not the same without her there.

Her 10 children, 18 grandchildren and five great granddaughters were a credit to her. She was a very happy person, she loved life, singing and playing the bodhran in later years. She loved Derry and Donegal.

Mary passed away in Letterkenny Hospital on Sunday 5th September. We will miss her a lot, but please God she is in a better place now.

I was privileged to call her my wife of almost 54 years. She was the love of my life and always will be.

Her husband Charlie xxxxxxx

Our Lady of Knock intercede for her.