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In memory of Margaret Reilly

Margaret and family

A few weeks ago we shared the story of Margaret Reilly, who celebrated her 100th birthday with a tea party at St Joseph’s care home.

Sadly, Margaret passed away peacefully last week. Liz Mulhall, Assistant Manager at St Joseph’s, and her relatives spoke about Margaret’s life.

Born in the countryside of County Mayo, Ireland, Margaret was one of twelve children. She was raised in the country and attended a local primary school.

Margaret moved to Kilburn in London during the Second World War, when she in her mid-twenties. She came to England with one of her sisters, who join the Carmelite Order of nuns in Reading. As this was a closed order, Margaret visited occasionally but they remained close.

Known for being strongly independent and somewhat reclusive, Margaret led a “humble and clean living” life in the capital, working to provide for herself. She was a devout Catholic, and her faith was very important to her throughout her life. Even into her eighties and nineties, Margaret walked a mile along Kilburn High Road to and from Mass every day.

Her nephew and niece, John and Mary Reidy, travelled to London from Birmingham weekly to visit Margaret and check in on her.

In 2012, she moved to St Joseph’s Care Home in Coleshill. The move not only allowed her to be closer to her family, but it enabled her to live once more in a rural setting, which she loved. Mary said, “She enjoyed being by the countryside. She liked the chickens at the home and the cattle in the field behind. It was what she’d grown up with.”

Her family described the move as giving her a new lease of life. Mary said, “She was very happy at St Joseph’s. She had a better quality of life. She got her hair done every week at the salon, and she was treated very well.”

/media/news/library/margaret-during-child-1st-visit-2.jpgMargaret didn’t speak much about her life and was a quiet person, but she always made her preferences known.

Liz said, “Margaret loved singing, especially Irish songs. Her favourite was Danny Boy. She liked playing board games. She loved people-watching. When we have activities she didn’t so much take part in them – she was happy sitting and watching.

Described as “quite a character”, Margaret had her own type of wit. Liz said, “She’d laugh at us if we ever looked a bit silly. If she didn’t want to do something she’d certainly let us know. She was a right character and it’s going to be very strange without her.”

Margaret appreciated the Catholic ethos of the home, attending Mass every day at St Joseph’s chapel. Mary said, “It was important to her to go to Mass every day. The priests at the home meant that she could continue to do so, which she wouldn’t have got elsewhere.”

John said, “We greatly appreciate the care at St Joseph’s from carers and management. The tender, loving care she received was wonderful.”

Margaret will be greatly missed by her family, friends and staff.

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