It is with great sadness and immense fondness that we record the passing of Patsy McKenna, Doogary, Tydavnet, on Friday 8th February 2019, in his 86th year. Predeceased by his loving wife Alice (Oct 2017), he is sadly missed by his sons Peter, John, Declan and Brendan, his daughters Marian and Sabrina, his beloved grandchildren, and the extended family circle. Patsy was born in Doogary in August 1933, to Peter and Mary McKenna, who reared a family of 10, 5 boys, (Patsy, Peter, Frank, Gerard, and JohnJames), and 5 girls (Kathleen, Margaret, Bernadette, Teresa and Geraldine). He grew up on the Doogary farm, and worked hard to eke out a living. The call of emigration came round the area, and some of his sisters took off for America, and while Patsy pondered the idea, his father had a different career path mapped out which involved him staying at home, so he bought Patsy a tractor – and that was enough to make him stay put, and there directed his life’s path! He met and married Alice Sherlock from the townland of Greagh, a nurse in St Davnet’s Hospital, and together they raised their family – Peter John, Marian, Sabrina, Declan and Brendan. Patsy still farmed – poultry and dairying taking up his daily toil – but both he and Alice always made time for others – nothing was ever too much bother to help out where they could. Patsy enjoyed a number of pastimes, most notably music, drama, bingo, and best of all despite all his other interests, he always had time for everyone! He was a noted fiddle player, the music coming down the generations from his late father Peter, and before that his uncle John (Delavey) McKenna from nearby Tonyfinnegan was a great musician. Indeed Patsy still treasured that great instrument from his granduncle – if only it could talk, what an interesting journey it could recount! He graced the stage for many of the production of Tydavnet Drama Troupe, he was a lifelong member of Tydavnet Show, and the choir in Tydavnet Chapel. Patsy was a great storyteller, liking nothing more than a friendly chat – whether it was on the farm, in the pub, in the bingo bus, at the fireside, or even in the chapel – for indeed that was a most important and regular place for him! He could recall with great accuracy stories about people and their connections, and about places he travelled; about events that had happened. He could converse easily on any topic and in any company, but Patsy was at his best when he was volunteering and helping. Indeed that trait continues in the next generation, as his family too are very involved with all that is good in north Monaghan.
While in failing health in recent years, Patsy continued to attend as many events as he could – and was supported in this by many family members and friends. The loss of his dear wife Alice in October 2017 took a heavy toll on his contentment, but he was blessed with the care of his family and medical experts, and in particular the love and support of Declan and Edel who provided for his every need. In their care, he was once again immersed in busy family life, the little ones in the house adding a new dimension to his interests, and never was he happier than when surrounded by the noise and busy-ness of a happy home. The 2015 Fleadh Cheoil Mhuineacháin competitions programme includes a lengthy interview that Mackie Rooney conducted with Patsy – it gives a great insight into his life and his memories, a few copies are still for sale from Scotstown Comhaltas, it’s well worth a read!
His funeral Mass was celebrated by Rev Stephen Joyce on Monday 11th February, and a large crowd travelled from near and far to pay their respects. It was a touching farewell; the emblems of his life brought to the altar included his trademark cap, missal, hymn book, diaries and his beloved fiddle, and his family members assisted in the beautiful and fitting Funeral liturgy. Doogary has lost much more than a local resident – they have lost a generation of stories, talent, community spirit, heritage, and knowledge, and they have bade farewell to a great neighbour. Sympathy is extended to his sons, daughters and grandchildren, his sisters Teresa, Geraldine, Margaret and Bernadette, his brother JohnJames and the extended family circle. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Close the Gate By Nancy Kraayenhof
For this one farmer the worries are over, lie down and rest your head,
Your time has been and struggles enough, put the tractor in the shed.
Years were not easy, many downright hard, but your faith in God transcended,
Put away your tools and sleep in peace. The fences have all been mended.
You raised a fine family, worked the land well and always followed the Son,
Hang up your shovel inside of the barn; your work here on earth is done.
A faith few possess led your journey through life, often a jagged and stony way,
The sun is setting, the cattle are all bedded, and here now is the end of your day.
Your love of God’s soil has passed on to your kin; the stories flow like fine wine,
Wash off your work boots in the puddle left by blessed rain one final time.
You always believed that the good Lord would provide and He always had somehow,
Take off your gloves and put them down, no more sweat and worry for you now.
Your labour is done, your home now is heaven; no more must you wait,
Your legacy lives on, your love of the land, and we will close the gate.