Una Birch of Thomastown, Kilkerley, Dundalk who has died at the age of 88, combined raising a large family with a busy job outside the home.
Not surprisingly regarded as a great organiser, she also found time to engage in her varied interests and pastimes.
Una passed away peacefully in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital on July 2, 2017, surrounded by her family.
Originally from Legion Avenue, Dundalk, she was a daughter of the late James and Winifred Gray, and attended the nearby Castletown Girls School.
As a young lady she went to England, working as a nurse in Whipps Cross Hospital in Waltham Forest, London.
Una returned home in 1950, when her mother became ill and subsequently worked for a time in Clarks’ shoe factory.
In 1954, she met Matthew Birch. They married the following year.
From 1967, until she retired in 1989, Una was a manager with the catering company of John D. Carroll, which numbered major local firms, Ecco and PJ Carroll & Co., as well as the Dáil restaurant, among its clients.
She had responsibility for Ecco, which at its height had a workforce of 1,800.
This was one of the roles in which her organisational skills shone through, and she thoroughly enjoyed her work.
All this was achieved while raising a large family, and anything that had to be done, she was the person to do it.
Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, given her profession, Una loved baking, cooking and preparing barbecues.
Gifted with her hands, she was accomplished at dress-making, and has been described as an angel on earth during her lifetime.
She enjoyed, and was adept at, crosswords, and travelled extensively with her husband, Matthew.
She visited her sister in Vancouver, Canada and New York to see her son, Dermot when he worked there, while Boston was another port of call, where there are relatives from Matthew’s father’s side of the family.
Una is survived by her husband, Matthew, sons, Patrick (Faughart), Matthew (Bellurgan), Eugene (Manydown Close), Dermot (Clonbur, Co. Galway), Paul (Ravensdale) and Conor (Kells), daughters, Mary (Faughart) and Una (Newtownbalregan), brother, Ronnie (Hyde Park), sisters, Carrie (Canada), Mona (Culhane Street), Phyllis (Tateetra), Annette (Meadow Grove) and Frances (Legion Avenue), grandchildren, great-grandchildren, son-in-law, daughters-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives and friends.
She was predeceased by her parents and by her brother, Wilfie, Castletown Road.
After reposing at her home, her remains were removed to St. Nicholas Church, where the funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr. Paddy Rushe, and a eulogy given by her son, Matthew.
Readings and Prayers of the Faithful were given by Stephen, Matthew Jnr., Tracey, Lauren and Lola.
Gifts symbolising Una’s life were brought to the altar by Una, Mary and Niall – a family picture, crochet blanket and rolling pin.
Jenny and Sinéad participated in the Offertory procession, while a reflection was given by Patrick.
Grandson, Seán Óg played the pipes and flute in the church and at the graveside, including Una’s favourite, the Isle of Innisfree.
Burial took place in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Dundalk.
The Month’s Mind Mass Sunday, August 6, 2017, at noon in St. Nicholas Church.
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