Former organist taught many pianists over the years

Martha Kerr
Martha Kerr

A GREAT sense of shock and disbelief was felt over a wide area when it was learned of the sudden passing of Mrs Martha Eileen Kerr of 3 Mount Royal, Newry Road, Banbridge which occurred at Craigavon Area Hospital on Friday evening last, 19 October.

She was the dearly loved wife of John (Jack) and dear mother of Valerie, Barbara, Brian and Judith. She married Jack 50 years ago in 1962 and they had just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in June this year.

Eileen, who was born and brought up in Banbridge, lived at the courthouse where her mother took up the position of caretaker after the death of her husband when Eileen was only three years old.

She also sustained a great loss in the year 2000 with the passing of her only brother Jim Trotter. She was educated at Abercorn School and then won a scholarship from there to Lisburn Technical College. Eileen started her working career in Byrne’s Solicitors office in Newry Street.

From an early age Eileen took music lessons, and studied piano with Miss De Pauley on the Newry Road. After mastering the piano, she then progressed to the organ.

Throughout her career she played the organ in many churches such as Waringstown Parish, Gilford Parish, Magherally Parish, Dromore Cathedral, and until recently, Aghaderg Parish. She also spent some time with the First Non Subscribing Presbyterian Church in Banbridge.

As well as the regular Sunday services, she played at many funerals and weddings over the years. She was also a member of the Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters and for a number of years served on the Committee as Secretary.

She particularly enjoyed the annual trips with the USOC travelling around Britain and Europe visiting organs and cathedrals.

She was also very well-known for teaching piano lessons and many students benefited from her knowledge over the years including her own grandchildren, and she was still teaching up until June this year.

She encouraged many of her pupils to take up the organ and was a keen mentor of young organists starting out in their careers.

She also had a great love of art and painted in both oils, watercolours and acrylics and for many years was a popular member of Banbridge Art Club. Her other interests included dressmaking, knitting and gardening.

Throughout her life she was an active member of Seapatrick Parish Church, singing in the choir in her early years, helping out on the organ and for a time working in the Parish Office, and always taking a great interest in all its affairs.

She also spent a number of years in the school office at the Abercorn Primary School. She is survived by her husband, Jack, son Brian, three daughters, Valerie, Barbara and Judith, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. The funeral took place on Sunday from her home privately to a service in Holy Trinity Parish Church at which the large congregation heard the Archdeacon Roderick West pay a fitting tribute to Eileen’s life and her love for music and the arts. He was assisted by Captain Geoffrey Walmsley and the robed choir.

The hymns “Love Devine” and “Be Thou My Vision” were sung, with Mr Stephen Timpany presiding at the organ. The interment took place afterwards in the New Cemetry. Archdeacon West presided at the home, church and graveside. Family flowers were placed on the grave and donations in lieu of flowers are being sent to William Bell and Co Funeral Directors, 23 Kenlis Street, Banbridge, BT32 3LR for Holy Trinity Parish Church and Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund (Cheques payable to William Bell & Co). William Bell & Co had charge of the funeral arrangements.