by Louise Doyle
A DEVOTED Ballybofey mother who campaigned to stop the closure of St Joseph’s Community Hospital where her son was a resident, has been remembered for her kindness, perseverance and love for her family.
Eileen Gallagher (91), late of Donegal Road, Ballybofey, was laid to rest in Drumboe Cemetery yesterday following Requiem Mass in the Church of Mary Immaculate, Stranorlar. Mrs Gallagher passed away in Donegal Hospice on Sunday following a short illness.
Very Rev Kieran McAteer PP told mourners how the entire community is “very grateful” to Eileen for her stalwart efforts in fighting to keep St Joseph’s Community Hospital open, afterfears in early 2016 that the facility would close its doors following a political decision to downgrade its services.
Many public meetings were held and thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate against any such plans.
Mrs Gallagher was, Fr McAteer said, “a blessing” who fought for others while having her “own cross to bear”.
He said: “We remember Eileen today with great fondness. Eileen enjoyed and received many graces. She was a great blessing to many people and this stood to her when crosses she had to bear were many.
“The people of this community are very grateful to Eileen for helping to keep St Joseph’s Hospital open. She marched, she spoke and she kept the pressure on but beside her public side, for 17 years she visited her son Liam in St Joseph’s Hospital after his life was cut down by a stroke.
“She talked to Liam, fed Liam and played board games with Liam, and if Liam had a good day then so too did Eileen.
“Eileen overcame obstacles by perseverance. She was a family person through and through. She loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Fr McAteer said it was his “privilege” to have known Mrs Gallagher.
“I would often have seen her walking up Donegal Road. It was a privilege to have known her, her Christian values have been an example to many. She has left a big gap in the lives of all who love her, and we ask the Lord to help the family in the days ahead.”
Prayers of the Faithful were offered for the doctors and nurses of Donegal Hospice who cared for Mrs Gallagher.
Meanwhile, Fr John Joe Duffy, who was a member of Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Committee, has remembered Mrs Gallagher as “instrumental” in overturning a decision to close the hospital.
In a beautiful online post yesterday, Fr John Joe Duffy told of how he was given the opportunity and honour of speaking with Mrs Gallagher in Donegal Hospice prior to her passing.
He has remembered her as a “powerful advocate”.
“Eileen was a powerful advocate for St Joseph’s Community Hospital and was instrumental in seeing the overturning of the decision to close the hospital. Eileen in her quiet, gentle manner gave tremendous witness publicly and at meetings to the value of the hospital in Stranorlar in a way only she could with her personal experience.”
Fr John Joe Duffy said Eileen’s voice “resounding with conviction” was “heard in the corridors of power”.
“My prayer is that she will now be hearing the voice of her late husband and son. Thank you Eileen for inspiring us. Your determination and strength of conviction were strong lights to guide us all.
“A beautiful, kind, good, gentle and wonderful lady goes ahead of us today to be reunited with her loved ones. May Eileen’s gentle and noble soul be in the fullness of peace.”
Mrs Gallagher is survived by her daughters Carmel (Eugene), Breda (Willie) and Marina (Danny), siblings, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a while circle of family and friends. She was predeceased by her husband Jim and son Liam.