Wednesday 22 November 2017

Mai Sweetman, aged 95, was a life-long learner

The late Mai Sweetman
The late Mai Sweetman
The late Mai Sweetman.

Mai Sweetman (née Furlong), who died recently at the age of 95, was born in 1921, in Littlegraigue, Duncormick, the eldest of nine children.

After finishing primary school she spent a year in St Louis Domestic Science College in Ramsgrange. She was a life-long learner who had a keen interest in poetry and the Irish language.

She read the paper daily, always kept her diary, loved crosswords and playing cards. She moved with the times. When she was in her 80s her nieces, who took her on her annual trip to Knock, taught her to text!

After school she worked in her parents thriving farm business before marrying her husband Arthur Sweetman in 1949. She moved then to her home in Carrig Hill where she remained for the rest of her life.

The kitchen was always a hive of activity, with visitors constantly coming and going. On entering the kitchen it wasn't unusual to see either a lamb or a child in the warm tea chest.

The Aga was the focal point of the kitchen and was also the creator of the famous toast which her grandchildren enjoyed. It was also where she made her jams and delicious flour bread. She took her jam making to its peak when she shared her secret recipe with Tom Doorley's Cookery Show on RTE.

Family was everything to her. She adored her six children, their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren and was looking forward to the arrival of her new great grandchild in January. Baby James William arrived safely on December 30, 2016.

Mai loved to shop local. She was often spotted sipping on a 'piping hot light latte' and eating in the Red Door Café in Carrig Village. In fact she was there for her last social outing on Monday, December 5, for the ICA Christmas party, where she had a great night.

She was an independent woman, in many ways ahead of her time. She enjoyed her independence so much she continued driving up until aged 94. Even the big freeze in 2010 didn't stop her getting to Mass. In fact after Mass she had to abandon the car at the shop and walk home.

She was a highly involved in the community, a member of the ICA, Legion of Mary, School Board of Management, Bannow Rathangan Show, Eucharist Minister. She enjoyed going to Grantstown Day Care Centre to socialise. She had just completed her annual Shoe Box appeal for charity in early December.

Last year she received the honour of raising the Irish flag with her great grandson Killian at the 1916 commemorations, something she was very proud of. Her social butterfly status was cemented by the enthusiasm she showed at her grandchildren's 21sts and was never the first to leave. Her family said they believed her determination to be always out and about is what kept her mind so sharp. She loved nothing more than a trip to Cullenstown where she regularly went for a swim and the family strolled along the beach she often recited the seanfhocal 'Na trí rudaí is deacra a thuiscint; obair na mbeach ,intleacht na mban, teacht agus imeacht na taoide'. Mai was so lucky to be able to stay at home, which was very important to her and this was made possible by her wonderful carers Renata, Lisa, Phil and Ann. Also her sisters, brother, relations and friends called regularly. Mai's lifelong friends were Maudie and Alice and the recently deceased Nora. Maudie and Alice were affectionately known as the Meals on Wheels with Alice providing the meals and Maudie the wheels. They were in daily contact with Mai and a much appreciated form of social support. Maudie said that she was the taxi for wakes and funerals and Mai's sister Bridie was taxi for medical appointments! Mai was a lady, a fact that has been remarked upon so many times over the funeral days. She loved her fashion and this was reflected in her elegant appearance. In her final days she was so content, and it was a privilege to see her smiling until the end. Mai was predeceased by her husband Arthur, son John and daughter-in-law Agnes. She will be fondly remembered by her children William, Margaret, Inez, Mary and Olive, sons in law, grandchildren, great -grandchildren, sisters Kathy, Bridie, Ann, brother Eamon and all her extended family, neighbours and friends.

Beidh tú inár gcroíthe go deo.

Wexford People

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