The heart that loves is forever young
Born in 1916, Sara Coney (née Glackin) lived an ordinary life with a most extraordinary outlook. From her early years through to her ninety-ninth year, Sara was known for facing adversity and challenge with a brave determination. The youngest of ten siblings, Sara never had the opportunity to meet her oldest sister, who emigrated to America before she was born. Five other siblings followed to start a very different life from that which Sara would carve for herself in her native Ardboe, Co Tyrone. Sara spent many happy decades living on the Crock Road, where she cared for her sister Jane who had contracted polio in childhood. Sara and Jane were inseparable because of Sara’s dedication in ensuring Jane had the best quality of life possible. Those were hard years in rural Ireland and Sara often recalled cold winter days when she rode her bike several miles to mass, with Jane sitting on the carrier. However Sara, ever the optimist, only reminisced of those days as a pleasure rather than a challenge.
When asked what was the secret to her old age, Sara said she that lived a simple but active life. She discovered a keen interest for sport in her younger years and was picked as a founding member of the camogie club in Ardboe in the 1930s. She enjoyed an illustrious career, playing for her club and proudly captaining her county. One of her fondest memories in recent years was a visit to the GAA Croke Park Museum where her photograph was displayed among the Hall of Fame Gaelic elite. Her grandchildren recall her teaching them how to run and balance the ball on the stick, even when she was well into her seventies. Certainly a testament to her youthful spirit. Her love of sport continued into her later years and was evidenced in her picking up the Irish News and start reading it (without glasses) from the back pages rather than the front – to update herself on her beloved Tyrone’s progress!
Sara married Charlie Coney and they were delighted when their daughter Anne was born. They had many happy years down the Crock Road. Sara had green fingers and her cottage garden flourished through the years. A steadfast friend and neighbour in good times and bad, grown men recalled at her wake that you couldn’t leave Sara until you had a ‘drink of mineral and a Rich Tea biscuit’. Her beloved Charlie sadly passed away in 1983. Sara lived independently in her own cottage until she was in her 90th year, when she went to live with her daughter Anne, son-in-law Damian and grandchildren Orla, Eimear, Ciaran and Sinead. Sara was adored by all the family and despite her advancing years her energetic spirit never wavered. Though she had left her beloved Crock road, Sara’s many neighbours and friends did not forget her. They continued to visit and she welcomed them with open arms. She had enjoyed the parish bingo and when no longer able to go as before, friends would bring her the odd scratch-card and enjoyed her delight when she had a win, no matter how big or small.
Even in her nineties, Sara was unique in that she could draw new friends to her, and she did so right up to her final days. She especially had a connection with young people and had a special place in her heart for them. She took a keen interest in their lives and they enjoyed how she clapped her hands in delight when they had good news to share with her. Every morning Sara would light her Blessed Candle for her young friends and family, and place their intentions in God’s care.
It was reflected on many times at her wake that people, after visiting Sara and experiencing her keen mind, wisdom, and infectious sense of humour, came away feeling better in themselves. Others seemed to draw inspiration from her positive outlook on life. Sara was a lover of life and people. She took pleasure in the simple things in life: nature, prayer, family and friends, and she appreciated all the blessings she received in life. Her large funeral was testament to the esteem in which she was held and she is as dearly missed as she is loved.
May her gentle soul rest in peace.
Contributed by her granddaughter Orla Robinson
Sarah Elizabeth Coney née Glackin of the Crock Lane, Killywoolaghan
Born 6 September 1916
Died 1 February 2015