|Birth: ||Jun. 17, 1896|
County Antrim, Northern Ireland
|Death: ||Nov. 8, 1976, Ireland|
When my aunt Vera died my grandmother was sitting in the church pew awaiting the arrival of the coffin carrying her daughter as the hymn Nearer My God To Thee. (This version is by Andre Riel - Instrumental), echoed through the church. I saw her wipe her eyes with a white handkerchief and I put my hand on her arm and asked if she was alright. She replied "Please ask God not to ask me to bury any more of my children". The song and her prayer stuck with me all my life. God did not ask her to bury any more of her children and as I entered the church for her funeral the same hymn was playing. This version is by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Nearer My God To Thee.
Sarah Donnelly was the wife of Thomas who died in 1936. She was the mother of Patrick Jr., William (Billy), Frances, Veronica (Vera), Sarah (Sally) all deceased and Mary, Cassie, Jackie and Bridie.
She did not have an easy life and was asked to bear many crosses with her faith often tested in life.
As a young widow she worked cleaning the local churches and schools to provide for her family. Her years of working with caustic cleaners caused significant skin damage to her hands. Many people told her she should take a "Claim" for the damage done and the pain and suffering she endured because of it. She would absolutely not hear of it, she did her work for the church and the school which was under church control. She believed that what she did was for God and how could anyone sue God.
She had the best Christmas tree in the neighbourhood and people would line up to come in and see it. She loved budgies and had one called Paul that would talk. She lived many years in Bread Street in the old Pound Loney before moving up the Falls to Rockdale Street. Each Christmas people from the neighbourhood would come to see her Christmas Tree, it was the biggest and best in the whole neighbourhood. In her many decorations were lots of beautifully coloured feather birds. I continue this tradition with our family tree in her honour every Christmas.
During World War 11 during a bad night of bombing by the Germans, she was trying to get her children into the coal bunker for safety. Everyone got in except my granny and she lost the hearing in one ear as her body took the shock of the blast. Later when helping check for injured neighbours along Percy Street, Belfast, she came across two children sitting on the kirb. The little boy in a checked shirt and braces had his arms around the little girl. They were around 5-7 years old. She thought they were too afraid to move and leaned over to tell them it was OK to go home. They did not answer her. She shook the little boys shoulder only to discover they had both been killed by the shock waves of the bombs. Neither child had any outward sign of physical injuries.
Granny took care of Aunt Mary who had been knocked down when she was 7 years old. She suffered brain injury which caused her to have severe epilepsy. There was a new surgery offered when Mary was a teen that had a 50% chance of helping her, the other 50% was that she might die. My granny choose not to allow the surgery believing that it was God's right to decide on life or death. Aunt Mary is in her mid 80's and still alive.
My granny also had a daughter Frances, she and her two grandsons moved "home" to live with her after Frances's husband dropped dead at 27 years old from a heart attack. Aunt Frances would later die from heart surgery complications after she became a pioneer in new heart surgery techniques. Her participation in this and ultimate sacrifice paved the way for generations to benefit from future heart surgery after the lessons learned in her death.
Uncle Billy would die young from lung cancer. His lungs were shot from years of working in the flour mill and being a smoker. He left a wife and young family.
My Aunt Vera also brought heartache and concern after she was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer at 19 years old. The neighbourhood collected enough money to send Vera on a pilgrimage to Lourdes where she was cured from her illness. One of the things required to "prove" a cure was that a panel of 10 doctors must concur that a Miraculous Cure has taken place. One doctor was not quite sold and so Vera's cure was never published. She went from having been given two weeks to live, to marry and have 8 children. She was never able to digest solid food though and lived on things such as coffee, whipped cream or jello. Another way to have her cure recognized was to survive 25 years. My aunt made two pilgrimages in thanksgiving back to Lourdes and was set for her 3rd where she fully intended to pursue Our Lady being given credit for curing her. She was afraid that if she was not able to eat solid food her cure would again be denied. She had been trying to swallow small pieces of bread. These would get stuck in her throat, sometimes she would be able to dislodge them, other times she ended up in Emerg where the doctor had to remove the small particles of bread. Her final attempt was to try the corner of a cooked ham sandwich. Neither she or her family could get it dislodged and she collasped. The ambulance men where able to revive her and move the food in her throat enough to again let her breath. They placed her in the back of the ambulance to take her to hospital where it would be removed. Unfortunately, they placed her on her back and the piece of sandwich again slipped down her throat, she was dead on arrival at hospital. An inquest later determined that had one of the ambulance men been in the back of the vehicle with her, had she been placed on her side, instead of her back, then she would have survived. One of the changes made was that one ambulance attendant would travel with a patient to ensure prompt and immediate assistance when needed. (Prior to this both attendants travelled in the front of the vehicle).
At Vera's funeral my granny was sitting crying into her hanky at the end of a pew. She prayed to God to take her before He would ask her to bury any more of her children. God heard her prayer.
When I was about 5 years old, I followed my mum to my granny's house. I suppose she was trying to escape the 10 of us for a wee while. She wasn't impressed with having been followed!!. As she was lecturing me my eyes diverted to a plastic bag hanging on a coat hook. It was sealed with a red plastic cap and inside was the biggest doll I had ever seen. It had a beautiful face with gorgeous blue eyes and it's hair was sculpted into the head.
I completely tuned my mother out and asked my granny if I could have her doll. My mother was furious at my "cheek", daring to ask for anything. she told me to go home before I got what was good for me. My granny told her to leave me alone and give me the doll. I remember climbing up on my grannies knee. Paul, her blue budgie flew down onto her shoulder to see what was going on. He started to chirp, "Pretty Dolly, Pretty Dolly". He was actually saying, "Pretty Paulie" but that's not what I heard. I asked my granny why the dolly had no clothes (The doll was stark naked). She told me all babies came into the world that way - even God!.
She asked me what I was going to call my baby and I told her "Jesus". Both she and my mum gasped, telling me I could not call my doll "Jesus" (Taking Our Lord's name in vain was a sin). Nothing would change my mind, Jesus, it was.
My mother gave me the family "Christening Robe" to dress my baby in and from that day on, Jesus went with me everywhere. When I started school and Christmas came around the teacher asked for a large size doll to use in the manger for the Christmas Nativity. I told her I had Jesus at home. (I can only imagine what she must have thought). Other kids laughed, others said they had dolls but I was adamant, I had Baby Jesus. (I was 5 years old). So Jesus got the job, and I proudly brought him into school in his long flowing white robes. (My mum washed the christening robes as Jesus couldn't show up in dirty clothes). She told me that God moves in mysterious ways because my granny had actually got the doll for use in the manger at the church.
After the nativity play, some mothers standing around where complaining that Jesus had only swaddling clothes, not fancy Christening Robes. My mother turned to them and said, "Yes, but we know better now". I never saw so many women silenced with so few words.
Some years later we moved to a new home where we found an abandoned van in the bog meadows. The neighbourhood kids made it a "home" and we brought our teasets, toys, games, books and of course Baby Jesus. Over the summer we had the most wonderful imaginative adventures and every night before we went home, I tucked Baby Jesus into bed, still wearing his long flowing, white robes. One day we showed up for another adventure to discover the van had been towed away and no one ever knew by whom or where to. Baby Jesus was gone and to say I broke my heart was an understatement.
Some 25 years later I was delivering some items to a local children's facility. A display case at the entrance doors held a beautiful baby doll, dressed in white christening robes. It was a raffle to raise funds for family Christmas Hampers. The sense of joy I experienced was absolute, Although there were some obvious differences in this and my doll, I felt as though I had found Baby Jesus. I came home and told my husband and kids, I was going to win that ballot. They laughed at my certainty. A few weeks later I recieved a call saying I had the winning ticket. I later gave this Baby Jesus to a little girl who had nothing, she was living on the streets at 12 years old. She came and lived with us over the next few years until she was able to live on her own, taking Baby Jesus with her.
Four years ago I purchased another baby doll that was used to display clothes in a childrens store. The store was going out of business. I had recently been blessed with a new granddaughter. I dressed this baby in the christening robes my four children had been baptized in and gave it to my granddaughter.
So "Baby Jesus" has moved on to another generation, like the gift of faith, we pass the greatest gifts we have to our children and their children.....
These are the things my granny and parents taught me and they taught me well.
I AM SO TOUCHED BY THE KINDNESS OF GEN GAL
FOR SPONSORING MY GRANNIES MEMORIAL.
I HAVE COME TO KNOW HER FRIENDSHIP THROUGH
OUR MEMORIALS AND AM BLESSED WITH THE GIFT OF
HER SUPPORT AND COMPASSION.
Frances Donnelly Lagan (____ - 1963)*
Sarah Donnelly Neeson (1929 - 1997)*
County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Created by: Rest in God
Record added: Mar 26, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 50224486