Rene lived a life of love and service to her community

John Hooks


John Hooks



Mrs Rene McVeigh

THE funeral took place on Wednesday November 14 in Limavady of Caroline Edith (Rene) McVeigh.

On Saturday November 17 a service of thanksgiving for Rene’s life took place in St Matthew’s Parish Church in Richhill where Rev Gary McMurray paid a fitting tribute.

Rene, was born to George and Emma Cheevers, of Keady almost 99 and a half years ago. She was one of five children, and the last surviving of her siblings.

Educated at Keady Public Elementary School, she helped out in the family’s chemist shop in the town. And it was in Keady that she was to meet, and later marry her husband, George McVeigh. George was a Constable in the RUC, stationed in Keady, and they were married in 1942.

Their first home together was in Lurgan, and over the next years, they lived in Lisburn, then Lurgan again, then Richhill, just down the street from St Matthew’s Church. On George’s retirement, they moved back to Lurgan, before returning to Richhill in 1980, to their home in Castle Avenue.

And during those years of moving about, their family expanded, with the arrival of Samuel and George, their wives Joan and Barbara, grandchildren Emmelyne, Philip, Jill, Kathy, and Andrew; and great-grandchildren Eddie, Lauren, Harry, Anna, Matthew and Charlie. It was with much love and affection, and great pride and delight, that Rene would speak about her loving family.

Sadly, Rene’s husband George died in 1997, after a happy marriage of 55 years; yet through her long years of widowhood, it seemed that Rene was unstoppable. The family spoke of her love of travel, going to Canada, and away with the RUC Widows’ Association, and to many, many places - for sightseeing, yes, but also for shopping!

Rene also had plenty of interests and was involved in many different groups and causes. Women’s Institute, Mothers’ Union, the Monday Club in St Matthew’s, the Tuesday Club in Richhill Presbyterian, the Thursday Club and Communion Services in Christ Church, Soroptomists, the Friends of Armagh Cathedral, and St Matthew's Bowling Club.

She was a volunteer with the Civil Defence for a time, and she was heavily involved with the Royal British Legion, receiving a medal for at least 35 years’ service collecting for the Poppy Appeal. It was somewhat poignant that, on the morning of Remembrance Sunday, on the day we marked the Centenary of the Armistice, Rene’s life of love and dedicated service came to an end, not far off her own centenary.

Above all of these commitments and involvements, though, came one special commitment - that of her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Having gone to the Presbyterian Church with her husband George, Rene would have gone along to the evening service in St Matthew’s when they lived in the barracks; and when they returned to live in Richhill, they joined St Matthew’s.

But it was said of Rene that if there was a church open, she would have been there - and had probably been in more churches than many ministers! So she would be regularly in Ballymoney and Limavady with her sons; and would go along to concerts and special services and whatever was happening. She just loved being with people and meeting people.

Speaking at Rene’s funeral, Rev Gary McMurray said: “The family spoke of her warmth, and generosity, her love and care, so that she was always there for them, and they never wanted for anything.

“I’ve only known Rene for just over a year, but listening to so many folk in Richhill, the word that seems to sum up Rene is that she was a lady. And she really was a lady. Even in her last days, she was still so gracious and polite, and so thankful for the nurses caring for her.

“The family have asked me to express their thanks to all of you for being present at the funeral. They also wish to thank the staff at the Macular clinic in the Mater hospital; the staff of Altnagelvin hospital, and the staff of Waterside hospital especially for their care, not just for Rene but also for the family.

“Thank you to her neighbours and the community of Richhill for their love, care and affection; and the congregation of Christ Church here, for your welcome and care. It’s fitting that the former Curate, Jason, was able to share in the funeral service. Thank you also to the RUC widows association for all that you did for Rene.

“On behalf of the church family of St Matthew’s, I want to express our sadness and sympathy to Samuel, George and the whole family, as we mourn the passing of our oldest parishioner. Be assured of our prayers in the coming days and weeks.”

Alderman Jim Speers has described Mrs McVeigh as a unique lady who contributed an enormous amount to the community in Richhill.

“Rene’s life took her away from Richhill at various times but she always gravitated back towards the village,” said Mr Speers.

“She was a real gem in the social fabric of Richhill and someone who was loved by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.

“Rene was involved in pretty much all aspects of community life here in Richhill for many years and right up until the time of her passing. She was at the forefront of all that is good about this village.

“I had known Rene for many many years and she was a great friend to me down through the years. I and many others will certainly miss Rene McVeigh.”

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