Sarah McEneaney obituary: Strong, independent woman who adored her family

Lives lost to Covid-19: ‘She had a razor-sharp mind and knew all that was happening in the world’

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Sarah (Sally) McEneaney  1926-2020

Sally McEneaney was an independent, strong and intelligent woman who adored her family and will forever be remembered by those who loved her.

Born Sarah Ellen Coyne in June 1926 to John and Elizabeth Coyne, Sally grew up in Pimlico in the heart of the Dublin Liberties. One of eight children, Sally's father died tragically in a work incident when she was just 14 years old. The family moved to Crumlin shortly afterwards.

Sally decided to leave school at 15 to help her mother and younger siblings financially after her eldest sister moved to Liverpool to train as a nurse. She worked two jobs – at Barnardo’s furriers on Grafton Street during the day and as a waitress at an ice-cream parlour in the evenings. She cycled to and from work each day and maintained a strong work ethic which she carried through her life.

Sally met her husband Peter, a clerk in the Irish Army, at a dance in Dublin and the couple were married at St Agnes's Church in Crumlin in April 1953. They later moved to Peter's native Dundalk, a place Sally quickly grew to love.

“It was a culture shock for her being a city girl because we lived about 2½ miles outside Dundalk,” remembers her daughter Laura. “She said moving to Dundalk was like moving to the countryside. But she was extremely sociable and made friends very easily with her neighbours.”

Sally and Peter brought up four sons and one daughter and she returned to work as a machinist at a factory once they had settled in school. Sally continued to work full time up until retirement.

“She was a very independent and fit woman,” remembers her daughter. “She cycled and walked everywhere and also loved to visit her siblings in Dublin via train or bus, which she did right up until her 80s.”

Beautiful voice

She supported Dundalk FC and always listened to league matches on her radio on Friday nights. Sally also loved gardening and was blessed with a beautiful singing voice. Her favourite song – The Rare Ould Times – was sung as her body was carried from the church during her funeral.

Sally started to lose her sight in her mid-80s and subsequently went completely blind. However, she remained positive and “just got on with life”, says Laura. “She had a razor-sharp mind and intelligence and knew all that was happening in the world. She was very non-judgmental and liberal in her beliefs and accepted people for who they were. She adored her family, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and they adored her.”

In February 2019, Sally moved into Dealgan nursing home after suffering a fall. She quickly recovered from her injuries and was in good health until she quite suddenly contracted coronavirus. She died on April 18th, 2020.

Her death leaves a huge void in the lives of her family, says Laura. “We are absolutely devastated that our lovely mother died without her family around her. We will miss Sally for the rest of our lives and will never forget the pain of losing her in such an awful way.”

Ten family members attended a small funeral Mass for Sally led by the local parish priest and filled with music. Outside the church, neighbours and friends lined the street, clapping in unison as the hearse passed by. “It was a very fitting and touching tribute that we, her family, will hold in our hearts forever.”