It is with sadness and regret we report the death of Kevin McGee, Cornacrieve, Emyvale,
which occurred in hospital on Thursday, January 6th 2011. Kevin had been in failing
health for some time and had been hospitalised, though he spent Christmas with his
family at home, returning to hospital on New Year’s Eve. His remains were brought
to the home of his son, Frank at Cornacrieve, where he reposed until the removal
to St. Patrick’s Corracrin on Saturday morning for Requiem Mass at 11 am.
The high esteem and respect with which he was held in the local community and much
further afield was clearly demonstrated by the huge numbers who called to the house
to pay their respects. St. Patrick’s Church was overflowing with the crowd in attendance
at the funeral and Requiem Mass, which was celebrated by Fr Hubert Martin, PP. Donagh.
Members of the family were involved in all aspects of the liturgy. The local choir
rendered hymns and psalmist/soloist was Amelia Murphy McCormack with accompaniment
by Fabian Murphy. Organist was Vanessa and Michaela was instrumental soloist - both
granddaughters of Kevin. Guards of Honour were provided at the Church by members
of the IFA, Emyvale GFC and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.
Kevin was a member of the McGee family from Davagh and was predeceased by his three
brothers and two sisters. He was educated at Edenmore National School and always
mentioned the fact that he started school on the same day that the late Master Stephen
McPhillips began his teaching career there. On leaving school he immediately threw
himself into farm work and had obviously inherited a powerful work ethic as he very
soon developed a reputation for hard work and diligence. As Fr. Martin stated in
his homily: ‘Kevin was no stranger to hard work and no complaints about it either;
work was a joy to him; it actually made him happy’. Many stories have been told of
his commitment and thoroughness at work. He was an acclaimed ploughman and his ability
to spend long hours with his trusted team of horses guiding the plough over miles
of terrain was well known. Indeed the Ploughing Matches, organised by the National
Farmers Association, were lively affairs with healthy rivalry and local competition
and everyone able to throw a critical eye over the furrows. With his brothers, Peter,
Pat and Jimmy, he trod innumerable miles while ploughing, grubbing, harrowing, sowing,
and harvesting the crops on his own land and for others in theirs. As modernisation
came he kept with the times and adjusted to changes very easily but his work rate
and enthusiasm for work never dwindled.
During lean times Kevin always had an eye for the work that would bring in a little
extra cash. During the war years and in the following decade flax was a great cash
crop and Kevin and the McGee family learned all about it – the sowing, the pulling,
the drowning in the dam, the spreading to dry and the gathering and the taking to
the scutch mill. Kevin also knew how to ‘scutch’ and worked in the local Mills. He
also cycled to a mill in Doohamlet and at other times to a mill in Lisdoart, near
Augher in County Tyrone. In the early days when money was scarce Kevin and his brothers
were contracted to Monaghan County Council by ‘direct labour’ to maintain so many
miles of roadway and this would bring in some ready cash while the farm work was
slack. He was also an expert on potato crops and, when they were an important crop
for every farmer, Kevin was a major grower. Having their own hens for eggs and a
few turkeys for Christmas was an accepted part of every year and part of the farm
work for Kevin and Kathleen.
From an early age Kevin also demonstrated a strong social conscience, something which
he maintained till his death. He became involved with the NFA, later the IFA, and
was a very active member and well versed in farming affairs. He loved attending the
IFA meetings as it was a place he could learn from others and also pass on his own
great experience. He also knew the power of unity among the group and was part of
the great Farmers March to Dublin in 1966 to gain better prices for farm produce.
The people on that particular march were given a special blessing by Bishop O’Callaghan
at the Cathedral in Monaghan before they set out. That event to Dublin bonded the
Irish farming community and was the beginning of what was to become a very strong
Farmers Lobby group.
Kevin also displayed his social conscience when he became actively involved in the
Monaghan County Hospital Retention Committee, a struggle which still continues. Kevin
was convinced of the need for hospital services in Monaghan to cater for the needs
of the rural communities, especially in North Monaghan, and understood the risks
for patients in having to travel long distances to avail of services especially in
Kevin kept himself up to date with all the current affairs, locally, nationally and
internationally, and was able to discuss any topic which might arise in company.
He watched the news and current affairs programmes on TV and read the daily paper
and the Farmers Journal to keep himself abreast of all developments and built up
his own farm with a forward looking mentality. He established a large dairy farm,
which is now under Frank’s management, and passed on his work ethic and enterprising
aptitude to his children.
He married Kathleen, nee McKenna from Carrickroe, and set up home at Cornacrieve,
overlooking the village of Emyvale. They reared a family of nine children – Martin,
Michael, Angela, Raymond, Frank, Evelyn, Seamus, Peadar and Maura, and they in turn
have established themselves in life. Kevin and Kathleen were approaching their 60th
wedding anniversary and nothing pleased them more than seeing their grandchildren
arrive and grow.
Kevin also had a strong faith, a faith that was handed down through generations and
one where Sunday Mass was very important and support for the Church and clergy was
paramount. Fr. Martin said –‘we gather here today in St. Patrick’s, Corracrin, in
gratitude for such a simple yet profound Christian life and when we say that we are
thankful to have known and loved this man, we are in fact thanking God for revealing
something more of himself to us in his life’. Kevin McGee touched many lives through
his 88 years and he will be missed by his many friends but none more so than by his
immediate family. To them - his wife Kathleen, his children and their spouses, his
grandchildren, his nephews and nieces, his in-laws and to all his relatives and friends
we offer our deepest sympathy.