Her love of life and vivaciousness touched those who surrounded her, but now Banbridge has lost of the charms of a true local character with the passing of Cissie McGivern.
Cissie who lived most of her life in the townland of Ballysheil, was the oldest in her family. At the age of 13 she lost both her parents, leaving her responsible for bringing up her younger siblings.
Later Cissie married and had a son James Edward and a daughter Mary, but sadly lost her husband in 1988. Her life was spent in hard work on the farm and devoted to her family.
Speaking of Cissie’s great capacity for living life to the full, the Very Rev Canon Francis Kearney said: “She was a legend - a great woman.
“Cissie was a lady who wasn’t her age. She was very independent, loved music and was full of life and always up for whatever was happening. She played the mouth organ and danced, right up until recently.”
A great knitter of socks, Father Kearney recalled a time when Cissie was quite ill in hospital: “before she was leaving the hospital again she had four pair of socks knit for the consultant. She really was one in a million.”
Cissie was determined to remain independent as she ‘hated to be a bother’ to anyone and lived at her home alone without any assistance from home-helps.
Father Kearney also commented on her involvement in the community saying: “Just recently Cissie was working with the pupils in the local school, teaching them skills such as embroidery and knitting socks - the sort of traditional crafts that are in danger of being lost”.
Cissie was the oldest person in her parish aged 101. She celebrated her 100th birthday on December 8 2012 at the Parish Centre. There, £3,500 was raised for charity, Cissie having asked for money in lieu of presents from the hundreds of guests who came to mark her milestone birthday.
She became something of a TV celebrity when on November 9, 2011, Joe Mahon from UTV’s Lesser Spotted Ulster Programme visited Annaclone. He was keen to visit Cissie as the parish’s oldest living person and someone who had a wealth of information and memories. Joe talked to Cissie about her long life and the many changes she has seen over the years. Cissie told Joe a few ghost stories and also ensured the art of sock knitting was not lost by teaching him how to knit them.
On June 16 2012, the Old Tullyorior Public Elementry School opened for one night only with displays of old photographs, school records and other artefacts. At that stage Cissie was the oldest living person to have attended the school.
Feeling for Cissie was clear from the tributes paid on our Facebook page. Helen Smyth said: “A legend. The parish centre will be lost without her at the doors”.
Brenda McGivern said: “Cissie will be missed at Supervalu Banbridge. Cissie was a pleasure to serve and always had a bit of crack for us all”.
Tanya Farrell said: “RIP Aunt Cissie. A true inspiration to many”.
Cissie’s funeral took place at St Teresa’s on Thursday, January 16.