Grandmother of 172 laid to rest in UK

 

A GALWAY-BORN grandmother has been buried in England - and all 172 of her grandchildren were there to pay their respects.

Margaret Mary Ward (87), known as Maggie, emigrated from Ireland to Salford in 1963.

She became, with her late husband Charles, the head of what has been described as one of the largest families to live in Britain.

The couple had 15 children, 172 grandchildren, 36 great grandchildren and 18 great-great grandchildren. All 12 surviving children - Joan, Patrick, Martin, Margaret, Mary, Catherine, Charlie, Bernard, Bridget, Helen, Anne and Lawrence - were at the service on Wednesday.

Her funeral was the first time that all 172 grandchildren had got together. They each released a balloon at the ceremony.

Ms Ward's daughter Anne Hudson told how her mother never forgot a birthday.

She said: "Mum was fantastic in every way. She was so devoted - she was there for everyone. Whenever you were in trouble you knew you could go to Mum. She would never forget a birthday and got everyone a present at Christmas. She bought presents all year round - she would go to markets to get gifts so she could afford something for everyone."

More than 400 people attended St Sebastian's Church in Salford for the service, with many travelling from Manchester, Birmingham and Ireland. Among the mourners was pop star Shayne Ward, a distant relative.

Ms Ward's hearse, draped in the Tricolour, was pulled by two grey horses. Funeral readings were given by eldest grandchild, Margaret Furey (51), and youngest, Laura Ward (11).