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20/09/2021

OBITUARY: Cathie O’Neill, Scotland, Cork and Ardfinnan

Rest in Peace

The late Eileen Abbott, Borris-in-Ossory

A sweet Scottish lady with a love of life, family and friends...and above all a husband from Ardfinnan

The azure sky over Ballincollig, Cork, lost some of its brightness on the afternoon of Thursday, May 13, 2021. A Scottish soul was departing for heaven to join her beloved husband, Peter, who predeceased Cathie by just over a year.

Master-seamstress from Glasgow, Cathie (neé McCaulay), met Ardfinnan- native, Peter O’Neill in America where he was serving with the US Army.

Pete’s contract expired just as his unit was due to travel to Vietnam. Pete lost a number of his army colleagues as a result of the awful conflict.

After a short engagement, they married and settled in Ballincollig where Pete became employed with the Cork Airport Police and Fire Service.

Four wonderful children, Karen, Tommy, Debbie and Peter Jnr. were born to them, each experiencing a most loving home and eventually, themselves, marrying.

Between them they provided thirteen adorable grandchildren for Cathie and Pete, most of them being present for their grandparents’ Golden Jubilee celebration some few years ago.

Owing to family circumstances, the O’Neills also became adept at Irish sign language.

Lasting friendships were formed with families in the area through house parties where music, chat, home-made crafts and delightful hospitality were the order.

Being Scottish, the main social occasion at their home was New Year’s Eve. Pete was from a very musical Suirside family and loved to throw out a few tunes on his accordion.

Cathie’s social and artistic skills led to her joining the local Irish Countrywomen’s Association. Here she exhibited another skill, that of organisation, and became president of this branch for a number of terms, later becoming arts and crafts advisor for the wider Munster membership and a highly respected standing in the national ICA scene.

(Cathie even managed to cajole a few men into temporary male membership for the purpose of shifting stage props for various theatrical productions!).

In her more senior years, she even took up studies at UCC in order to give a contribution back to the welfare of her adopted parish of Ballincollig.

Many will have witnessed her warm, practical and encouraging manner.

Cathie and Pete loved seeing the world and travelled extensively during their lives. Some two years ago, travelling to Florida to join a cruise, Pete suffered a stroke on the flight but, thanks to the cabin crew and the fortunate presence of medical people on board, he survived the crisis only to spend many weeks in a Florida hospital, with Cathie staying in a local hotel until it was possible to become repatriated to Cork.

Sadly, Pete would just survive another year.

Cathie had been coping so courageously with cancer for many decades, yet achieved such a wonderful value from life through her love of that life, her family and her friends.

After her beloved Pete died, her health rapidly departed her and she died on Thursday afternoon, May 13, in the gentle care of the staff of the Mercy University Hospital in Cork city and surrounded by her loving family.

As Cathie joins Pete in heaven, perhaps Saint Andrew will notice the blue on his standard pulsing with a new brightness – and no doubt there might well be a tinge of Premier County ochre to complement the blue.

Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a nanamacha Dílis.

Compiled by Philip Joyce – a family friend in Ring, Clonakilty

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