Ballinamarrogue, Islandeady, Castlebar
The parish of Islandeady lost a well respected and most courteous member of the community when Katie O'Malley from Ballinamarrogue died in University College Hospital, Galway, on July 4 last.
Katie was born on August, 1927, in Castlelucas, Ballyglass. Her parents were Michael Gannon and Winifred Hughes. She was the last born of a family of six boys and two girls.
Katie witnessed many changes during her life time. Ireland was still a very new State at the time of her birth, a mere five and a half years after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which set up the Irish Free State.
Her school days coincided with the years of the Economic War of the 1930s and those of the Emergency when Ireland paid a high price for her neutrality during World War Two.
Like many of her contemporaries she emigrated to England when she was in her early 20s. In her later years, she frequently referred to the happy days she spent working in London's West End.
The late 1950s saw the beginning of a remarkable economic recovery in the Republic of Ireland and standards of living gradually improved.
In the early 60s Katie returned to her beloved Co. Mayo and married Martin O' Malley from Ballinamarrogue.
For close on 30 years she did the household duties and seasonally helped on the farm with Martin. After his death in the summer of 1992, Katie was destined to spend the next 18 years on her own, right up to her illness in December, 2009.
Katie will be remembered by her many friends and acquaintances for her prodigious memory for dates of births, marriages and deaths.
At social and family gatherings she proved herself to be an excellent raconteuse. Her stories captured the imaginations of her listeners as she recalled the happenings of the distant past in vivid detail and always with a sympathetic and humorous turn.
She possessed the eye of an artist for detail and this was matched with a great flow of words that held the interest to the end.
But what amazed most people was her great gift to recall accurately the dates of birth of people of all ages both living and dead.
A keen intellect coupled with a burning desire for knowledge was Katie's hallmark all through her life.
Though she loved to recount the stories of the past, she lived very much in the present. She was always au fait with the latest news and she delighted in the 'plottings and plannings' of politicians of all persuasions.
She enjoyed travelling and over the years visited Italy, France, Portugal and the United States. In 2003 she visited Ellis Island in New York and found the details of her mother's arrival there in the early years of the last century. For Katie this was a special moment that she treasured for the remainder of life.
The Ireland in 2010 is not the same Ireland as in 1927, yet Katie had no problem in accepting all the changes that the passing of time brought.
Right to the end, she carried herself with dignity guided by old-world style principles she acquired from her parents at home and that were reinforced by her teachers in school.
For her, honesty was the best policy and the dishonest and those who interfered with other people's property she found very hard to accept.
On the morning of her passing, the skies over Galway darkened, the winds grew stronger and torrential rain fell. It was as if nature itself was in sympathy as a noble spirit departed this world.
Ar dheis De go raibh a hanam uasal.