Lives Lost to Covid-19: Muriel McEvoy worked hard for her close-knit family

After being diagnosed with dyslexia, she made sure her children valued education

Muriel McEvoy from Dublin, 1947-2021

Muriel McEvoy from Dublin, 1947-2021

 

This article is one of a series about people who have died with coronavirus in Ireland and among the diaspora. You can read more of them here. If you would like a friend or family member included in the series, please email liveslost@irishtimes.com

Muriel McEvoy, née Brennan

1947-2021

There were no lottery wins or legacies for Muriel McEvoy. “Everything Muriel ever got, she got herself and she worked hard for it,” says her youngest daughter. “She was strong,” adds Audrey, clutching for the word she feels best describes her mam.

Muriel grew up on St Agnes Road, Crumlin and relished her childhood; however, she was less keen on school. “She hated school and found out later in life that she had dyslexia,” Audrey says. As she was the youngest, Muriel’s mother used to let her stay at home when school got too much. That suited her just fine.

Keen to earn a wage, Muriel left school when she was 13 and went to work as a machinist in a factory. Handbags crafted in leather for the department stores of Dublin were her specialty and she met the love of her life there – leather cutter Terry. He carried on cutting and she carried on sewing until 17-year-old Muriel and 19-year-old Terry got engaged on Christmas Eve 1965, then headed to Nelson’s Pillar on O’Connell Street to get their photograph taken.

Birds of a feather

Muriel and Terry went on to have three children, Sharon, Carlos and Audrey. Birds of a feather, the couple laughed and cried together, marching on through everything life threw at them. And whatever the Irish State threw at them too. Muriel wanted to work, but when she got married the proclivities of a State not fond of women having a job meant she had to leave.

You couldn’t keep a good woman down, though, and as soon as the legislation changed in 1973, Muriel was back. She spent most of her working years in Belvedere Bags on Dublin’s Capel Street. Terry joined her there and they worked together until the factory closed in 2004 when there was no longer demand for Irish-produced bags as larger stores got cheaper bags in foreign markets.

Muriel ran for the number 13 bus every day for years, just about catching it at Parnell Square. The bus would take her back to Ballymun and Audrey would jump on en route when school ended. Muriel was managing flexible work and family time from the start.

Muriel never felt good enough at school. Back then no one knew anything about dyslexia, so education was the key for Muriel and she made sure that her children valued it too. They did and are so grateful to their mam for making it a love, not a chore.

Love of gardening

Muriel and Terry made family life a joy in Ballymun and Muriel discovered her love for gardening there. When the pair moved to Rush in 2005, the garden took on a bigger meaning. Muriel loved nature and loved it that the grandchildren she adored loved plants and bugs and trees too.

It is her smile that others remember. “People were so fond of her and her broad smile. She had such a twinkle in her eyes,” says Audrey. Even after Muriel was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in her 60s she simply went back to Audrey’s house, cuddled her granddaughters and watched a movie. The staff at Boots in Blanchardstown, where she worked last, remember the woman who made them laugh and looked after them so kindly.

But it is Terry who will miss the love of his life most. He was there holding her hand at the end. Like he always has.

Covid-19: Lives Lost

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