End of an era: Cloyne bids farewell to much-loved local woman

"The day she died she got to do the two things she really loved. They were the shop and mass.” 
End of an era: Cloyne bids farewell to much-loved local woman

Caroline Cannon and her mother Margaret McCarthy outside the family shop, Motherway in the East Cork village of Cloyne, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

CLOYNE is lamenting the end of an era this week after bidding farewell to one of its best-known and most-loved residents.

Margaret McCarthy passed away this week after decades behind the counter at Motherway - a shop as iconic as the village’s round tower and Christy Ring statue. Many recalled the joy it brought people, who visited the store not just for groceries but to open up about their everyday woes and concerns.

Now more than 100 years old, Motherway, better known as Mrs Mac’s to locals, looks set to continue for decades to come.

The family are gaining strength from local support following Margaret’s funeral at St Colman’s Church, Cloyne on Thursday.

Margaret’s daughter Caroline spoke to the Echo about how her mother was so many things to so many people including-she joked-a doctor.

 Caroline Cannon and her mother Margaret McCarthy at the family shop, Motherway in the East Cork village of Cloyne, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Caroline Cannon and her mother Margaret McCarthy at the family shop, Motherway in the East Cork village of Cloyne, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

“She was always part of everybody’s life,” Caroline said. There was no doctor in Cloyne and if somebody came into the shop with a child who was unwell she would be able to say “that’s measles” or “that’s chicken pox” and always be right.” 

Margaret had been running the shop for 64 years before passing away at the age of 90. 

Caroline’s father had initially bought the shop from his aunt Jo Motherway before marrying Margaret. Margaret later took over the shop while her husband ran the nearby sawmill.

“Mum was born in Ballymore in Cobh and had to leave school early to run the family farm after my grandad suffered health issues. She married my dad in 1958. 

"Despite never having worked in a shop before she took to it straight away. She was ahead of her time. Mum lived a very simple life. Growing up we lived in the shop and it wasn’t until later in life that she moved into a house across the road.” 

Caroline recounted how they were different times.

“I remember the first freezer that we had. It was eight foot long and four foot high but still took up most of the shop. The shop was always heaving with stuff. As far as mum was concerned you had to pack in as much as possible.” Margaret had many strings to her bow.

“She was very skilled at arithmetic. As the years went on, she adapted to all kinds of technology and was able to use the new tills without difficulty. People would be coming in for phone credit and all kinds of things but she learned everything she needed to know. She never took to the mobile phone though. You might even say she hated it. She had her mind made up and wouldn’t even charge it.” 

The 90-year-old enjoyed a wholesome life.

“She was religious and hated any kind of cursing. If she heard kids in the shops swearing, she would pull them up on it straight away. My mother chatted to everyone. If you had a queue stretching out the length of the shop she would continue with her stories. It didn’t matter if they were children or pensioners, she was able to talk to everybody.” 

Margaret was also praised for championing the underdog.

“If there were children coming into the shop and one of them had no money she would always give them a few sweets.” The Cork woman was devoted to the shop up until her dying day.

“She had been sick over Christmas. The days she came back to work she was telling me to stay in bed and that she would open up the shop. We advised her against it but she came in for a few hours. We did our crosswords and chatted because it was quiet after Christmas. Then she went to mass. The day she died she got to do the two things she really loved. They were the shop and mass.” 

Margaret had seven children-namely Jo, Pat, John, Donie, Margôt and the late Tadgh. She is also sadly missed by her grandchildren.

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